Saturday, March 16, 2024

Wendy Williams’ guardian claims A+E Networks exploited talk show host in new legal filing

By Vanessa Serna and Eileen Reslen

Wendy Williams’ guardian, Sabrina Morrissey, accused A+E Networks of exploiting the former TV personality in Lifetime’s “Where Is Wendy Williams?” documentary.Lifetime

Wendy Williams’ guardian claimed A+E Networks “shamelessly exploits” the former talk show host in Lifetime’s “Where Is Wendy Williams?” documentary.

Newly unsealed court documents obtained by Page Six reveal Williams’ appointed guardian, Sabrina Morrissey, accused A+E Networks of “humiliating” the media personality by filming her “in an obviously disabled state,” which “cruelly implies” that her “disoriented demeanor is due to substance abuse and intoxication.”

Morrissey alleged that Williams, 59, who was diagnosed with frontotemporal lobe dementia and aphasia in May 2023, was told the two-part series, which aired Feb. 24 and Feb. 25, would paint her “in a positive manner like a phoenix rising from the ashes.”

She further claimed that when A+E Networks released the trailer for the documentary on Feb. 2 they benefitted from “unconscionably exploiting [William’s] condition, and perhaps even disclosing her personal and private medical diagnosis, for perceived entertainment value and the prurient interest of television viewers,” per the documents.

“This blatant exploitation of a vulnerable woman with a serious medical condition who is beloved by millions within and outside of the African American community is disgusting, and it cannot be allowed,” the filing read.

“We look forward to the unsealing of our papers as well, as they tell a very different story,” a spokesperson for A+E Networks tells Page Six.

Morrissey’s lawsuit was originally filed in the New York County Supreme Court on Feb. 20 — after the trailer was dropped — in an attempt to get a judge to order a temporary restraining order against the release of the documentary.

According to the documents, A+E Networks started filming Williams following a signed contract in January 2023.

However, Morrissey argued that Williams lacked the capacity to enter the agreement and sign on to the documentary as an executive producer due to her condition.

She then referenced Williams’ court-ordered guardianship, which she entered in February 2022, adding the former TV host was “incapable of managing her own business and personal affairs,” the documents read.

Morrissey further said Williams nor herself approved of how the media mogul was filmed and portrayed in the trailer and documentary after being told it would serve as a comeback following the cancellation of “The Wendy Williams Show,” which ran from 2008 to 2022.

Morrissey slammed A+E Networks for “unconscionably exploiting [William’s] condition” for the benefit of audience interest when the trailer for the two-part series was released on Feb. 2. Lifetime

Additionally, Williams’ manager for the project, William Selby, claimed he didn’t review A+E Networks’s trailer or the Lifetime documentary, per the documents.

A source close to the matter also questioned who “approved the final product, if not Wendy or her guardian,” slamming A+E Networks for moving forward with the project given Willams’ condition.

“Anyone with eyes could see that something was very wrong with Wendy,” a source told Page Six. “The producers knew or should have known that Wendy was suffering from dementia during filming.

“They certainly knew that she suffered from dementia before they aired the docuseries because it was announced by press release.”

The source furthered, “Wendy did not consent to this docuseries. She was not shown and did not approve the footage.” 

The “Where Is Wendy Williams?” documentary showed Williams constantly drinking despite her known issues with alcohol abuse, crying over the details of her finances and becoming irritable with those around her.

Her son, Kevin Hunter Jr., also appeared in the series, claiming his mother’s dementia diagnosis is due to her alcoholism.

Morrissey claimed A+E Networks didn’t get her approval on the content added in the trailer or the documentary. Lifetime

“[Doctors] basically said that because she was drinking so much, it was starting to affect her headspace and her brain,” the 23-year-old alleged. “So, I think they said it was alcohol-induced dementia.”

While Morrisey proved to have an issue with the series, Williams’ family thinks otherwise.

Last month, Alex Finnie — Williams’ niece — allegedly claimed her aunt told her family “now is the perfect time” to do the documentary so she could take “ownership” of her story.

“That conversation [about her wanting to do the doc] was crystal clear,” Finnie told ABC News.

Finnie further said her family wanted the media to shed a spotlight on Williams’ guardianship, claiming they’ve been pushed out of her life.

“Family was shut out,” she explained. “Her guardian has not released that information [pertaining to where Williams is] to us. I haven’t seen her in about nine months.”

Williams’ relatives allegedly don’t know the TV star’s whereabouts despite her occasionally talking to them on the phone.

Full Article & Source:
Wendy Williams’ guardian claims A+E Networks exploited talk show host in new legal filing

See Also:
Wendy Williams Owes $568,000 In Unpaid Taxes Amid Conservatorship, Health Crisis

Wendy Williams’ guardianship case highlights the need for reforms

Wendy Williams' Guardian Caught in $5.5 Million Fraud Scheme Amid Star's Health Revelations

Lifetime's 'The Bad Guardian' Stars Melissa Joan Hart in a Tale of Guardianship Gone Wrong

‘Bad Guardian’: Lifetime to Tackle Guardianship Debate With Melissa Joan Hart, La La Anthony

Wendy Williams' financial guardianship raises 'red flags' after adviser attempted to block documentary: expert

Wendy Williams top 5 documentary bombshells

Inside Wendy Williams' Family's Fight to Free Her from Her Guardianship: 'This System Is Broken' (Exclusive)

Wendy Williams diagnosed with aphasia, frontotemporal dementia: What to know ahead of documentary release

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

What's happening with Wendy Williams? From talk show no-show to 'incapacitated person'


SHOCK CLAIMS Wendy Williams’ bank calls her an ‘incapacitated person’ who is possible ‘victim of financial exploitation’ in lawsuit

Wendy Williams had to be told several times her show had been canceled, execs say

Wendy Williams’ Ex Sells House Amid Big Money Troubles

'Gentleman' Senior Dog in Shelter for 2 Years Finds Ideal Adopter in Fellow Senior Citizen (Exclusive)

"He just bloomed," pet parent Jeanette says of how Velcro, a senior dog with special needs, reacted to being adopted 

by Kelli Bender

  • Velcro, originally named Beluga, arrived at Austin Pets Alive! in 2022 and spent over 700 days at the Texas rescue
  • The 10-year-old dog has special needs, which made it harder to find the right adopter until Velcro met Jeanette
  • Jeanette, a 74-year-old woman, has committed herself to spoiling Velcro since bringing the senior dog home

After two years of waiting in the shelter for his perfect match, Velcro the senior dog found his soulmate in a fellow senior citizen.

Beluga, now renamed Velcro, arrived at Austin Pets Alive! (APA) in 2022 and started his search for a forever family. The Carolina dog mix has special needs: He is partially deaf and partially blind and has neurological and mobility issues.

Because of these special needs, Velcro required a home with certain specifications — calm, slow-paced, ideally one story — which unfortunately extended his stay at the Texas shelter.

But then, in February, Jeanette walked in. Jeanette, who is turning 75 in April, was searching for a docile, loving companion after the death of her two dogs in December. The animal lover initially visited the shelter to meet a different dog, but then she saw 10-year-old Velcro.

"He has a neurological issue, so his head kind of tilts to the side, and he looked like, 'Oh, look at poor, little me.' So I said, 'Okay, I have to see him,'" Jeanette tells PEOPLE.

"He was reserved at first, but as soon as he came out with me, he changed," she adds. 

After spending time with Velcro, Jeanette felt the dog was meant for her. The dog's special needs only made her want him more.

"I wanted a dog that was more placid, and Velcro fit that bill. He can't jump up; his back legs are weak. He can't hump, which is another plus in a male dog," Jeanette shares. 

Shortly after meeting Velcro, Jeanette brought the dog home and started the foster-to-adopt process, which allows the shelter and the foster to help the pet acclimate to their new home by providing at-home behavior consults and lifelong adoption support. 

After a few days with Jeanette, Velcro "became more personable." He still acted like "a sedate old gentleman" but also "perked up."

Now, "he trots around in the backyard," Jeanette says, a behavior APA never saw from the dog during his two-year stay.

"He's just bloomed," the pet parent adds.

APA posted an Instagram video documenting Velcro's transformation. In the clip, the formerly shy and slow-moving dog happily prances after Jeanette as the pair trots around a backyard.

Since welcoming Velcro, Jeanette has committed herself to "spoiling the dog wild."

Velcro has large dog beds scattered throughout his new home, so there is always a place to sunbathe. Jeanette showers him with pats, praise, and Pup-Peroni treats — Velcro's favorite. The dog also joins Jeanette on leisurely walks outside.

"I'm not that spry myself, but it gives me a reason to get out in the fresh air and walk in the woods," Jeanette shares, adding, "We don't walk; we stroll." 

When Jeanette and Velcro aren't strolling side-by-side, they can still be found together.

"He's never more than two feet from my side. That's why I renamed him Velcro. If I get up, he gets up. Wherever I go, he follows me. If I'm up and moving, he's up and moving with me," Jeanette says.

She adds that her home "has always been owned and operated solely for the pleasure and convenience of dogs" because the pets give "so much love." 

Jeanette hopes her adoption story with Velcro inspires others, especially senior citizens, to consider senior pets.

"I hate to see these older dogs passed over," she says, "Velcro is just so happy to be out of that shelter."

"It's nice for seniors to have a senior dog because you don't have to try and keep up with them. And it's companionship," Jeanette adds.

Of course, adopting an older pet means you will likely have to say goodbye to them sooner than a younger animal.

"You have to be prepared for that. But if you can handle the loss, the joy of having them is more than worth it," Jeanette says.

Full Article & Source:
'Gentleman' Senior Dog in Shelter for 2 Years Finds Ideal Adopter in Fellow Senior Citizen (Exclusive)

Friday, March 15, 2024

Wendy Williams Owes $568,000 In Unpaid Taxes Amid Conservatorship, Health Crisis

The former talk show host is currently in a conservatorship, though she's accused her team of mismanaging her finances. 

By Alexandra Sakellariou 

Wendy Williams


  • Wendy Williams faces $568,000 in unpaid taxes for a NY condo she bought for $4.5 million in 2021.
  • Federal authorities warn her to settle the dues promptly to avoid penalties and interest charges.
  • Despite once earning $10 million a year, Wendy's financial problems were exposed in a recent documentary.

Wendy Williams may not have any control over her finances at the moment, considering she’s reportedly in a conservatorship as well as in-patient treatment following an aphasia diagnosis. But the former talk show host is reportedly experiencing a financial crisis, as new reports say she owes over $568,000 in unpaid taxes over her New York condo.

Legal documents filed earlier this year claim that Williams is facing a substantial tax debt for the property, which she acquired for $4.5 million in 2021. Federal authorities have issued a stern warning, urging her to settle the outstanding dues promptly to avoid potential repercussions, such as penalties and accrued interest charges.

Furthermore, court documents reveal that the federal government has been actively pursuing the collection of the overdue taxes for an extended period, making it all the more likely Wendy could face financial consequences for leaving the debt unpaid.

Despite once making $10 million a year for her synonymous talk show, Wendy’s ongoing. financial problems were exposed recent Lifetime documentary, "Where Is Wendy Williams?," which made its debut just last month.

Wendy’s money woes led to a court-appointed guardian stepping in to oversee her finances subsequent to her assertion that Wells Fargo had frozen her bank accounts back in 2022.

At the time, Wendy responded by taking legal action and initiating a lawsuit to release her funds. However, Wells Fargo countered, alleging concerns about her financial advisor's apprehension regarding her mental state, suggesting vulnerability to financial exploitation. Consequently, the court intervened, mandating Williams be placed under the guardianship of Sabrina Morrissey, who has been granted full authority over both Wendy’s financial affairs and health-related decisions. It’s unclear why Morissey has left the back due taxes unpaid despite the government warning.

Despite her family’s apprehension regarding Wendy’s well-being, they also lamented over being excluded from the legal proceedings, arguing her family had little involvement in the conservatorship now governing Wendy’s finances. The documentary depicted expressions of concern from her son, niece, nephew, and sister, all raising doubts about the individuals in Williams' inner circle. Furthermore, Wendy herself hinted at the possibility of financial mismanagement in a poignant scene.

Estimates say Wendy – who’s currently in an undisclosed treatment center seeking treatment for her dementia diagnosis – is worth approximately $500,000. Her team hasn’t formally responded to the allegations of unpaid taxes, at least not publicly.

Full Article & Source:
Wendy Williams Owes $568,000 In Unpaid Taxes Amid Conservatorship, Health Crisis

See Also:
Wendy Williams’ guardianship case highlights the need for reforms

Wendy Williams' Guardian Caught in $5.5 Million Fraud Scheme Amid Star's Health Revelations

Lifetime's 'The Bad Guardian' Stars Melissa Joan Hart in a Tale of Guardianship Gone Wrong

‘Bad Guardian’: Lifetime to Tackle Guardianship Debate With Melissa Joan Hart, La La Anthony

Wendy Williams' financial guardianship raises 'red flags' after adviser attempted to block documentary: expert

Wendy Williams top 5 documentary bombshells

Inside Wendy Williams' Family's Fight to Free Her from Her Guardianship: 'This System Is Broken' (Exclusive)

Wendy Williams diagnosed with aphasia, frontotemporal dementia: What to know ahead of documentary release

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

What's happening with Wendy Williams? From talk show no-show to 'incapacitated person'


SHOCK CLAIMS Wendy Williams’ bank calls her an ‘incapacitated person’ who is possible ‘victim of financial exploitation’ in lawsuit

Wendy Williams had to be told several times her show had been canceled, execs say

Wendy Williams’ Ex Sells House Amid Big Money Troubles

Matt Shirk, former 4th Circuit public defender, disbarred

He was found to have practiced law after he was suspended by The Florida Bar for violating Bar rules.

By Max Marbut

Matt Shirk

Matt Shirk, former 4th Judicial Circuit Public Defender, was disbarred from the practice of law March 13 by the state Supreme Court.

Shirk was found in contempt of an August 25, 2022, order from the court suspending him from practice for one year after he was found to have violated Florida Bar rules.

The suspension was ordered after Shirk was investigated by a grand jury and also by The Florida Bar for misconduct, including that he hired women to work in the public defender’s office and then directed that they be fired “for the private benefit of himself and to save his marriage.”

Shirk also was alleged to have kept alcoholic beverages in a Jacksonville city-owned building.

According to a petition for contempt filed Oct. 18, 2023, against Shirk by The Florida Bar, in the months after his suspension, Shirk engaged in the practice of law by filing his Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Accredited Representative and by filing motions on behalf of four different immigration clients with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service.

In its March 13 order, the court said: “As a sanction, Respondent is disbarred from the practice of law in the State of Florida.”

In addition, judgment was entered against Shirk for recovery of $1,250 in costs.

Shirk was elected in 2008 and reelected in 2012 to be public defender for the 4th Circuit, comprising Clay, Duval and Nassau counties.

Full Article & Source:
Matt Shirk, former 4th Circuit public defender, disbarred

Centre County woman pleads no contest to felony neglect, financial exploitation of woman

by Bret Pallotto

A Snow Shoe Township woman pleaded no contest Friday to neglect for what a Centre County prosecutor once described as “barbaric treatment of another human being.”

Loretta P. Stokes-McClusick, 54, pleaded no contest to one felony count each of neglect of a care dependent person and financial exploitation of a care dependent person. The plea meant she accepted the conviction, but did not admit guilt.

Centre County Judge Julia Rater is set to decide her sentence, which could include anything from probation to a lengthy period in state prison.

Stokes-McClusick said little during the hearing, having only offered perfunctory answers to routine questions from Rater. She also shook her head as Centre County First Assistant District Attorney Sean McGraw read aloud the allegations against her.

A then 84-year-old woman Stokes-McClusick was responsible for was treated in May 2022 for what a registered nurse at Mount Nittany Medical Center described as “horrific” wounds.

Her weight was substantially diminished, she was treated for hypothermia, her blood pressure was the lowest the nurse had ever seen, and some wounds that appeared to be caused by maggots exposed bone.

The woman survived, but medical professionals at the emergency room feared she would either die or have one of her legs amputated. McGraw said the woman would never walk again.

“It’s nothing short of incredible that she survived this ordeal,” McGraw said when Stokes-McClusick was arraigned in February 2023. “I think it’s a tribute to both her resilience, as well as the excellent care that she received at Mount Nittany Medical Center.”

A court-appointed guardian oversaw the woman’s finances after her hospitalization, but McGraw said Stokes-McClusick wrote herself a $2,000 check from the woman’s bank account. No additional charges will be filed as part of the agreement that requires her to repay that money.

Stokes-McClusick, who posted $100,000 bail through a bondsman, remains free. No sentencing date was set.

Full Article & Source:
Centre County woman pleads no contest to felony neglect, financial exploitation of woman

Thursday, March 14, 2024

Missouri state lawmaker urges 24-hour digital surveillance of nursing home common areas

by Alyse Pfeil

A room is left empty on the fourth floor at Northview Village Nursing Home in St. Louis on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023. The living facility closed suddenly, much to the outrage of employees, volunteers and relatives of residents who returned to find their belongings and information of the whereabouts of loved ones.

JEFFERSON CITY — A yearslong debate over the prevention of elder abuse and surveillance in nursing homes was again deliberated by a panel of state lawmakers Tuesday.

The House Children and Families committee heard a proposal that would mandate assisted living facilities and nursing homes to maintain continuous video and audio surveillance of common areas. It would also require facilities to provide a copy of a recording to a resident or guardian in order to investigate abuse or neglect.

The legislative hearing came a day after a St. Louis aldermanic committee released a report with city, state and federal-level recommendations aimed at improving nursing home care.

In 2020, the state Legislature, after negotiations with nursing home industry groups, approved a measure permitting nursing home residents to place cameras in their rooms, should they choose to. It was designed to prevent abuse or neglect and aid investigations into misconduct at long-term care facilities.

But problems with long-term care facilities have persisted in Missouri.

At the end of last year, Northview Village Nursing Home shut down abruptly and transported residents to other facilities in the middle of the night — often without notifying family members and, in some cases, without medical records, medications and personal possessions.

Rep. Adam Schnelting, R-St. Charles, who is sponsoring the bill this year, said his proposal is meant to “ensure transparency and accountability.”

While presenting to the committee, Schnelting shared a personal story.

“My own mother was killed nine months ago in one of these facilities,” he said.

After suffering a stroke and paralysis, Schnelting said his mother was transferred to a rehab facility, where she said that someone was trying to kill her. The facility, Schnelting said, eventually reported that his mother had “secured unknown injuries.” She was taken to a hospital and died a number of days later.

Schnelting said that cameras would have allowed him and his siblings to know who entered his mother’s room during the time frame the injuries occurred.

Committee members expressed their condolences and some talked about mistreatment of their loved ones in long-term care facilities.

Rep. Holly Jones, R-Eureka, said her mother was “degraded” and neglected. She said the facility told her that common-area cameras weren’t working, and her mother refused to leave her room because she felt unsafe. Jones eventually removed her mother from the facility.

“My mother had dementia,” said Rep. Marlene Terry, D-Bellefontaine Neighbors. “And she had also told us that they were killing her. And they were. And to this day, I regret that I didn’t do something different to help her because she was telling the truth.”

But the committee also discussed potential challenges that could arise from the proposal, like placing burdensome costs on facilities or families or releasing recordings to anyone who requests them.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, the federal law that protects sensitive patient health information, and privacy should be considered, said Rep. Ingrid Burnett, D-Kansas City, “not just because it’s federal but because it’s the right thing to do.”

The legislation brought opposition from nursing home industry groups who also raised privacy concerns.

Families today can choose to have cameras in the rooms of long-term care facilities, but a lot of residents don’t want those cameras said Jorgen Schlemeier, a lobbyist for Missouri Assisted Living Association.

Under Schnelting’s bill, even if a resident objected to digital surveillance, “by law, I would be mandated to be watched by a camera and my audio to be recorded,” Schlemeier said.

Nikki Strong, executive director of Missouri Health Care Association, said a long-term care facility “is that resident’s home. ... Residents have the right to determine whether or not they would be videoed.”

“We’re one of the most heavily regulated industries in the country,” Strong said.

Full Article & Source:
Missouri state lawmaker urges 24-hour digital surveillance of nursing home common areas

Local Lawmaker Proposes Bill To Safeguard Seniors From Financial Exploitation

State Rep. Joe Hogan. File photo.

A local lawmaker has introduced legislation aimed at empowering financial institutions to more effectively identify, report, and halt the financial exploitation of seniors and care-dependent individuals.

State Rep. Joe Hogan, a Republican from Middletown Township, has introduced House Bill 2064.

The proposed bill would authorize, but not obligate, financial institutions to report suspected financial exploitation to state investigators. It would allow these institutions and fiduciaries the ability to temporarily halt transactions that are suspected of being exploitative and to take legal action to protect the financial interests of older adults.

Additionally, the legislation aims to facilitate the sharing of information and records between financial institutions, fiduciaries, and county area agencies on aging.

“Like other voluntary reporters to protective services, financial institutions and fiduciaries would be immune from civil or criminal liability when exercising their discretion to report, share records, provide information to Area Agencies on Aging, and temporarily delay financial transactions,” a statement from Hogan’s office said.

“Since taking office, I have heard too many stories of seniors being scammed out of their hard-earned dollars,” said Hogan. “My team and I have worked tirelessly to identify new protection programs and held several events to raise awareness and educate my neighbors about these scams. Now we are looking at legislative solutions. For the last few months, I have worked on this legislation with key stakeholders, and together we are taking a stand against those who prey on our senior population. These increased protections will ensure our seniors, or their caregivers, can live with a sense of security knowing their finances are being protected in Pennsylvania.”

The legislation has gained bipartisan support and co-sponsorship from state representatives K.C. Tomlinson, Kristin Marcell, Shelby Labs, and Craig Staats, all of Bucks County.

Full Article & Source:
Local Lawmaker Proposes Bill To Safeguard Seniors From Financial Exploitation

Sedalia man charged with financial exploitation of a elderly relative

by Jennifer Weiser

The Pettis County Prosecutor’s Office charged Brian Dale Vinson with one count of Financial Exploitation of Elder/Disabled Person. (Photo from Pettis County Sheriff's Office.)

A Sedalia man has been charged, accused of taking large amounts of money from an elderly relative.

Pettis County Sheriff Brad Anders said that his office was contacted by a man in May of 2023 who was concerned about his mother.

The man said he thought another relative was taking financial advantage of his mother, who suffers from dementia.

He said the relative, Brian Dale Vinson, put his mother into an unknown residential care facility.

He also said Vinson had the woman sign over real estate into Vinson’s name and took $779,830.

The Pettis County Prosecutor’s Office charged Vinson with one count of Financial Exploitation of Elder/Disabled Person.

Vinson surrendered to the sheriff’s office on Monday and was being held on a $1,000,000 bond.

Full Article & Source:
Sedalia man charged with financial exploitation of a elderly relative

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

New York Trusted This Company to Care for the Sick and Elderly. Instead, It Left People Confused and Alone.

Unchanged diapers. Fees collected for care never given. New York Guardianship Services is often tasked with caring for the "unbefriended," but records show more than a dozen cases where it failed to meet the needs of the most vulnerable.

by Jake Pearson, illustrations by Dominic Bodden

Across New York City, hundreds of vulnerable people have been entrusted to New York Guardianship Services, one of roughly a dozen companies the courts rely on to care for “the unbefriended,” those without family or friends to help them.

The state’s guardianship law is supposed to prevent these guardians from abusing, neglecting and defrauding those under their care. But, as ProPublica reported last week, the measure is failing to safeguard those who need protection the most.

Our reporting told the story of Judith Zbiegniewicz, who suffers from depression and anxiety and spent a decade under the care of NYGS. The company placed her in a dilapidated Queens apartment where she lived among rats and bedbugs, sometimes with no heat or electricity. She complained to the company regularly but said it did little to fix the problems. Instead, NYGS repeatedly told court-appointed examiners that her housing was adequate — a claim these authorities never challenged.

ProPublica has now identified more than a dozen cases like Zbiegniewicz’s in which NYGS — and the court officials charged with oversight of the cases — failed to meet the needs of those entrusted to its care.

The stories provide a stark portrait of New York’s overtaxed guardianship system, which experts say is straining to care for more than 28,600 people statewide — 60% of whom live in New York City. Across the five boroughs, there are only 157 examiners to monitor how guardians care for wards. And just over a dozen judges review their work. Such thin ranks can render oversight almost meaningless, with annual assessments often taking years to complete.

NYGS executives Sam and David Blau declined to be interviewed for this story and didn’t answer written questions about the cases identified by ProPublica or the company’s broader business practices. Sam Blau, the company’s chief financial officer, said in a statement that as a fiduciary he was barred from answering questions “about any specific client.” However, he noted, “we are accountable to the Court and our annual accounts and reports are scrutinized by Court appointed examiners and any issues would be addressed.”

In his statement, Blau called ProPublica’s reporting “misguided, without full and proper context, filled with omissions and less than accurate information.” But when asked to specify his concerns, he did not respond.

These stories of NYGS’s wards represent the range of harms that can befall New Yorkers whose needs are great and bank accounts are small.

Renea Richardson became a ward of NYGS in March 2018, two years after suffering two strokes and undergoing surgery to relieve swelling in her brain. The health crisis left the former Port Authority of New York and New Jersey worker with brain damage and trouble walking.

But her time in rehabilitation facilities didn’t help her recover, and her goddaughter, Erin Samples, said NYGS wasn’t responding to her many calls. So by the fall of 2021, Samples took her concerns directly to the judge overseeing the guardianship. She was particularly concerned about the conditions in the Brooklyn nursing home where NYGS had placed Richardson.

Richardson was “not receiving regular diaper changing, not being properly dressed when I have visited her and not receiving physical therapy services,” Samples wrote. “Simply put, many people including Ms. Richardson’s guardian has dropped the ball when it comes to her care.”

The judge discharged NYGS four months later, replacing it with Integral Guardianship Services — a nonprofit guardian firm where Blau had also worked. Richardson and her family, however, were unaware that the group had its own problems. During Blau’s tenure, the state attorney general had investigated Integral, ultimately accusing it in 2015 of improperly loaning its executives hundreds of thousands of dollars while wards sat unnecessarily in nursing homes. Blau was not named in the probe, and Integral executives repaid the loans and pledged widespread reforms.

But Samples said the group was just as unresponsive as NYGS when she complained about Richardson’s care, according to emails she provided to ProPublica.

Samples now plans to become Richardson’s guardian herself.

“I never thought I’d be like this,” Richardson said in an interview last summer from her hospital bed in the Bedford Stuyvesant nursing home. Asked what she does all day, she said: “I lay in this bed and get fat and watch TV.”

Integral shut down last spring, and the courts reassigned its wards to other guardians. In a statement, John Ousley, Integral’s former CEO, acknowledged the delays in Richardson’s case, saying that more than half of the firm’s cases were pro bono and that due to limited resources and crushing needs, his staff had to “prioritize the most urgent requests in a given moment.” While he recognized Richardson and Samples’ frustrations, he said, he hoped they understood that “we were doing the best we could under very difficult circumstances.”

Another NYGS ward, Sigifredo Morante, appears to have slipped through the cracks entirely.

The former accountant and his wife, whose memories were fading, were appointed a guardian in the spring of 2017. The couple was living in a Queens nursing home, though they wanted to return to their native Colombia, where they had family and property. As it turned out, they had given a nephew, Francisco Arango, power of attorney, and he’d petitioned the court to send them back to their home country that fall. A Queens judge allowed the dual citizens to return under Arango’s care.

In an October 2017 hearing, the judge ordered NYGS to relinquish the guardianship altogether after the couple relocated and to reimburse Arango for fees associated with the move, which was completed before the end of that year. That never happened.

For reasons that are unclear, NYGS instead stayed on as Morante’s guardian — at least on paper — and took $450 in compensation from his Social Security check each month. In annual reports, the guardianship disclosed that Morante had moved to Colombia but provided no explanation for its fees. Reviews of those reports, court records show, were delayed in part because of NYGS’ own delinquency in responding to the examiner. Pandemic-era courthouse closures further prolonged his examination. By the time the examiner had enough information to flag the apparent no-show guardianship, Morante had been dead for more than two years.

Arango had no idea the company had continued to take compensation even after Morante died in March 2021, just shy of his 83rd birthday. He has since hired an attorney in Colombia, but it’s unclear whether Arango will be able to claw back the thousands of dollars NYGS took while Morante lived — and died — overseas.

After Arango’s lawyer notified NYGS of Morante’s death last summer, David Blau, the chief operating officer of NYGS, told him that the company could “conclude this matter I think fairly simple” once Arango provided a death certificate, an email shows. Arango has since done so, but Blau hasn’t responded to his lawyer’s subsequent inquiries, according to emails Arango’s lawyer provided to ProPublica.

Arango said law enforcement should investigate how NYGS was able to maintain the guardianship and take a cut of Morante’s government benefits, even as Arango spent thousands of his own dollars caring for him. “In my opinion they did what they could to take money” from vulnerable elderly people, he said of NYGS.

Even in cases where the company did know about dire conditions, it was slow to act, former employees said.

That was the case for William Bell, who was in his mid-80s and being looked after by his stepdaughter when the city sought a guardianship for him in 2017 to help stop an eviction from his apartment. Widowed and fiercely independent, he refused for years to move into a nursing home, even as his health deteriorated and his needs exceeded what his stepdaughter could provide.

In February 2019, a Brooklyn judge granted NYGS’s motion to permanently move Bell into a rehabilitation center, where he was eventually diagnosed with dementia.

Last June, Bell, then 90, was rushed to NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital, where hospital records show he presented with “agonal breathing” — gasps or moans that a person near death utters. Doctors told the guardianship that they could not save him and advised ending life support, according to a person familiar with Bell’s case who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss his medical records.

But it took NYGS nearly a month to request a formal ethics assessment from the hospital to facilitate that process, that person said. The report, completed just after the July Fourth holiday, unambiguously argued that Bell’s care should be withdrawn since he’d lost “mental status” and couldn’t be weaned from a ventilator. “The prognosis is extremely grave without any hope of recovery,” it read.

Bell died the following day, on July 7, before any action could be taken.

Former Arc of NEPA employee charged for nearly $8,000 in benefits theft

A 32-year-old woman from Wilkes-Barre faces charges for financial exploitation

Author: Joe Kohut

SCRANTON, Pa. — A former employee from the Arc of Northeastern Pennsylvania in Lackawanna County fraudulently used a resident's benefits card to the tune of nearly $8,000, state police at Dunmore said.

Amanda Marie Quick, 32, is charged with financial exploitation of a care dependent person, identity theft and other related offenses.

Quick, of Wilkes-Barre, abruptly quit in January. Weeks earlier, staff noticed resident Kenneth Allen's EBT card went missing and started investigating, according to a police affidavit. 

They took a look into Allen's financial statements. Staff found questionable charges over a two year period around Wilks-Barre and Philadelphia. 

State police interviewed Quick, a former Arc employee, who admitted she did Allen's shopping. She told them those purchases were made on Allen's but she could not provide receipts for nearly $8,000 in transactions using Allen's EBT card. 

Arc policy requires that employees submit receipts for purchases made with a resident's EBT card.

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Former Arc of NEPA employee charged for nearly $8,000 in benefits theft

Alabama teen gets special honor after saving elderly woman from being hit by train

An Alabama 18-year-old named Lilly Baker saved an elderly woman in a wheelchair who was stuck on train tracks. She received a special honor from the Limestone County Commission.

Alabama teen gets special honor after saving elderly woman from being hit by train

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

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Charges Held for Trial Against Elder Care CEO Accused of Theft, Exploiting Older Adults

by Keith Heffintrayer

All charges against the founder and CEO of Elder Care Direction have been held for trial, as additional victims from across the country have come forward alleging their family members were also scammed by the company.

Magisterial District Judge Adam Katzman held over all charges against 35-year-old David Dempsey, of King of Prussia, during his preliminary hearing on Feb. 26. Dempsey was arrested last summer on counts of theft by failure to make required dispersal of funds, financial exploitation of an older adult, receiving stolen property, theft by unlawful taking, theft by deception, and deceptive business practices, along with a misdemeanor count of misapplication of entrusted financial institution property, following an eight-month investigation by the Lower Salford Township Police Department.

Dempsey — who is also a partner of the Gilbertsville-based Uncommon Perspective Group — is currently free on $10,000 unsecured bail while awaiting formal arraignment.

Investigators were first contacted on Feb. 1, 2023 by a woman living within the township who claimed she had entered into a contract with Elder Care Direction to manage her finances. Per the contract, which was dated Sept. 1, 2020, Dempsey was responsible for managing the woman’s financial accounts, including providing her with a $4,400 monthly allotment for her expenses. Police said the woman provided Dempsey with $284,000 from her accounts at the start of the contract, with each payment to be made on the 28th of each month beginning October 2020.

Investigators said Dempsey would make the monthly deposits, but the dates were inconsistent. Dempsey then began making late payments to the woman, prompting the woman to request that Dempsey transfer the remainder of her balance on Oct. 27, 2022, as she no longer trusted him with her finances, police said.

At the time the woman requested to terminate the contract, her account had a balance of approximately $180,000, investigators said. Between the time the woman requested to terminate the contract and the time she contacted police, Dempsey continued to make the monthly payments but never returned the balance or terminated the contract, police said.

Investigators contacted Dempsey on Feb. 2, 2023 at which point he allegedly stated he was working on returning the woman’s money, adding a transfer had been initiated on Feb. 1. Dempsey agreed to send police documentation confirming the transfer, however he never sent the information, according to police.

Over the months that followed, investigators and the woman’s daughter repeatedly attempted to secure the remaining funds, however Dempsey would repeatedly make excuses including failed transfer attempts, needing a signed release form, and bank errors, according to charging documents. Dempsey then stopped making the monthly payments to the woman in April 2023 and ceased all communication with the woman and her daughter, police said.

"Because of Dempsey’s failure to make payments to [the woman], [she] only had $47 left in her checking account, which led her to have to take money out of her brokerage account to afford her daily living expenses,” investigators said, in the affidavit of probable cause.

Further attempts by police to contact Dempsey yielded negative results, prompting police to file charges on Aug. 8, 2023. Dempsey was arrested and taken into custody on Aug. 31, 2023 when he was subsequently arraigned by Magisterial District Judge Margaret Hunsicker.

The complaint notes that as of the time the charges were filed, the woman had lost $17,600 in monthly income for the months of April, May, June, and July. She additionally has a loss of $160,211.11 in the remaining fund balance that was never transferred, police said.

Following North Penn Now’s initial report on Dempsey’s arrest, additional victims from various areas of the country came forward — both to this news organization and to Lower Salford Police —alleging they had similar experiences with Dempsey and Elder Care Direction. In email correspondence with North Penn Now, investigators confirmed that additional victims have come forward and the investigation is ongoing.

Neither Dempsey nor Elder Care Direction has responded to a request for comment. The court docket does not list an attorney for Dempsey, and his next court appearance is a formal arraignment at the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas at 9:30 a.m. on April 10.

Anyone who believes they may have also been scammed is asked to contact the Lower Salford Township Police Department at 215-256-9500.

All suspects and defendants are innocent until proven guilty. This story was compiled using police reports, court records and the affidavit of probable cause.

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Charges Held for Trial Against Elder Care CEO Accused of Theft, Exploiting Older Adults

Widow Was Targeted in Mortgage Scam, Then Killed in Murder-for-Hire Plot When She Didn't Die Soon Enough: Cops

Violet Alberts, 96, owned a multi-million-dollar home in Southern California's exclusive enclave of Montecito.

In the breathtaking bluffs of Montecito in Southern California, 96-year-old widow Violet Alberts owned a multi-million-dollar home where neighbors included Oprah Winfrey, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, and Ariana Grande.

After two years of investigation, the Santa Barbara Sheriff's Office has now detailed an allegedly elaborate scheme that they say began with a mortgage scam to defraud Alberts and ended with a murder-for-hire plot that killed her in 2022.

“She was a vibrant 96-year-old widow. A cherished figure in the Montecito community,” said Sheriff Bill Brown at a Thursday news conference. “Despite her age, she remained active and engaged and was known for her warm demeanor and social nature.”

Alberts' body was found in her bed in May 2022, where the coroner later determined she was killed by asphyxiation, most like from being smothered in her sleep. In the kitchen, deputies found all the ingredients necessary to make cookies, apparently to celebrate her upcoming 97th birthday, Brown said.

Investigators later discovered that Alberts was being swindled out of her home, valued at between $4 million and $11 million, authorities said. It was "a tangled, evil web of financial exploitation against the victim," Brown said. 

Alberts had been offered a reverse mortgage by Pauline Lisa Macareno, a Los Angeles woman who instead planned to steal ownership of the widow's exclusive home, Brown said.

Authorities say she ultimately orchestrated a "murder-for-hire" scheme, and enlisted three men: Ricardo MartinDelCampo, 41, of Los Angeles, Harry Basmadjian, 58, of Van Nuys, and Henry Rostomyan, 33, of Tujunga.

"Let me put it this way: in the eyes of Ms. Macareno, Miss Alberts was living too long," Brown said.

Macareno was charged in 2022 with multiple counts including elder abuse and fraud. She pleaded no contest and was sentenced to six years in prison, according to court records. She faces an additional charge of solicitation of murder that was filed on March 1, court records show.

She has not entered a plea on that last count and has no attorney of record for that charge, according to online court records.

Inside Edition Digital has reached out to her attorney in the earlier case for comment.

Basmadjian was arrested in January, Rostomyan was arrested in February and MartinDelCampo was arrested last week, Brown said. They are charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder.

Basmadjian, who was in federal jail in an unrelated case, suffered a health emergency while in custody and is now "essentially brain dead with a grim prognosis," Brown said.

Rostomyan and MartinDelCampo have not entered pleas, according to court records. Inside Edition Digital has reached out to Rostomyan's attorney for comment. MartinDelCampo has no attorney of record.

Both men are being held at the Santa Barbara County Jail without bail, online records show.

The widow had no nearby family, but had many friends in the community, the sheriff said. She sometimes forgot things and had difficulty understanding what was going on around her, but was physically active, Brown said.

“Despite facing challenges with her memory and cognition, Violet’s spirit remained undaunted,”  Brown said. “This was evident in her plans to celebrate her upcoming birthday by baking fresh cookies.”

The sheriff said Alberts was also having financial difficulty and had met with Macareno in 2020 to arrange a reverse mortgage, a loan available to senior homeowners. A reverse mortgage allows owners aged 62 and older to borrow money against their home's equity.

Macareno "capitalized on Alberts' vulnerability, engaging in financial elder abuse that led to the fraudulent acquisition of her property," Brown said. 

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Widow Was Targeted in Mortgage Scam, Then Killed in Murder-for-Hire Plot When She Didn't Die Soon Enough: Cops

Man accused of conning elderly Knox County woman out of $95,000

Dongyi Guo

by John Garlock

A Chinese national from New York City is accused of trying to scam an elderly Knox County woman out of nearly $100,000.

Dongyi Guo, 27, of Flushing, New York, was arrested Thursday by the Knox County Sheriff's Office.

Guo is now charged with three counts of financial exploitation of the elderly.

According to court documents, Guo went to the 79-year-old victim's home four days this week to unlawfully obtain thousands of dollars in cash that he had convinced the woman to withdraw from her bank in Edina.

Law enforcement said Guo stole a total of $95,000.

On Wednesday, the sheriff's office staked out the woman's home and arrested Guo when he arrived.

Investigators found about half of the money in the trunk of Guo's car. The cash was in a black suitcase, concealed inside a Walmart bag.

Authorities are unsure right now where the other half is.

They said Guo originally contacted the woman by email and then began communicating with her over the phone.

Knox County Sheriff Carl Knoche said the defendant posed as the FDIC.

“He convinced the victim that her identity had been compromised and that she needed to retrieve money out of the bank and send it with them in order to save the money, and then, they would return it to her at a later time," Knoche said.

A grandchild of the victim alerted law enforcement that a man was stealing large sums of money from the woman.

The sheriff's office was assisted by the Edina Police Department, Scotland County Sheriff's Office, Missouri State Highway Patrol, Kirksville office of the FBI and the Knox County Prosecutor's Office.

Court documents state that Guo has an extensive criminal history, including identity theft and other crimes involving fraud.

Guo is being held without bond in the Lewis County Jail.

The Edina Sentinel reports that Guo in the U.S. on an employment authorization from the People's Republic of China.

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Man accused of conning elderly Knox County woman out of $95,000