Saturday, March 30, 2024

Former assisted living activities director charged with exploitation and larceny

The Attorney General’s Office announced that Lilac Rain Brown-Fisher, 28, of Essex Junction, Vermont, was charged yesterday with one count of felony Grand Larceny, one count of felony of Larceny from a Person, and one count of felony Financial Exploitation of a Vulnerable Adult.

The Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud and Residential Abuse Unit (MFRAU) brought the charges, alleging that Ms. Brown-Fisher, who was formerly an Activities Director at Maple Ridge Memory Care in Essex Junction, stole valuables and keepsakes from at least one elderly and disabled client. A joint investigation by the Essex Police Department and South Burlington Police Department, with the assistance of Maple Ridge’s management, was initiated when a family member of a resident of Maple Ridge Memory Care noticed that an heirloom ring had disappeared. The ring was later recovered, but the investigation revealed more instances of Ms. Brown-Fisher stealing jewelry from other clients at Maple Ridge Memory Care. Further charges are anticipated as MFRAU identifies those additional victims and contacts their families.

Ms. Brown-Fisher pleaded not guilty at her arraignment on March 28, 2024, in Vermont Superior Court, Chittenden Unit Criminal Division. The Court, Judge Kevin Griffin presiding, ordered conditions of release, including that Ms. Brown-Fisher has no contact with Maple Ridge residents or employees other than through counsel for the purpose of legal representation.

Financial Exploitation of a Vulnerable Adult carries a maximum penalty of up to ten years imprisonment and/or a fine of not more than $10,000. Grand Larceny carries a maximum penalty of not more than ten years imprisonment and/or a fine of not more than $5,000. Larceny from a Person carries a maximum penalty of up to ten years imprisonment and/or a fine of not more than $500.

If you suspect anyone is being or has been exploited, neglected, or abused, contact local law enforcement immediately. Elder exploitation, neglect, and abuse may also be reported to Adult Protective Services by calling 800-564-1612 and MFRAU at

The Attorney General’s Office emphasizes that individuals charged with a crime are legally presumed innocent until their guilt is proven beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Former assisted living activities director charged with exploitation and larceny

Shelbyville Resident Faces Charges Following Allegations of Financial Exploitation

by Chandelar Williams

Shelbyville, TN - A Shelbyville resident, Mary Ann Pruitt, is facing serious charges following an investigation by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation's Medicaid Fraud Control Division. The investigation began after concerns were raised by the Tennessee Department of Human Services Adult Protective Services regarding possible financial exploitation.

Mary Ann Pruitt, born on April 20, 1942, allegedly had possession of a debit card belonging to a former tenant of her residence, who was a recipient of TennCare. It's alleged that over a span of about two years, Pruitt used the tenant's debit card for personal purchases and cash withdrawals across multiple counties without authorization.

On Monday, the Bedford County Grand Jury issued indictments against Pruitt, charging her with one count of Financial Exploitation of a Vulnerable Adult and one count of Theft. Subsequently, authorities arrested Pruitt on Wednesday and placed her in custody at the Bedford County Jail. Bail was set at $25,000.

DISCLAIMER: All suspects are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. The arrest records or information about an arrest that are published or reported on NewsRadio WGNS and are not an indication of guilt or evidence that an actual crime has been committed.

Full Article & Source:
Shelbyville Resident Faces Charges Following Allegations of Financial Exploitation

Father-son altercation leads to elder abuse arrest

Brian Andres, 42.

Brian Andres, 42, arrested and booked into county jail

– Brian Andres, 42, was arrested by Paso Robles Police Department officers on charges of felony elder abuse after he allegedly assaulted his 71-year-old father inside their home.

On Mar. 25 around 10:15 a.m., a 9-1-1 call was made by the elderly victim reporting the assault at their residence in the 2300 block of Oak Street. Upon arrival, officers found the victim outside the home, with injuries to his face and arm.

Andres briefly emerged from the residence but retreated inside upon seeing law enforcement personnel on scene.

After negotiations lasting over an hour, Paso Robles Police officers forcibly entered the home and apprehended Andres without further incident.

Andres faces charges of felony elder abuse, with an enhancement due to the victim’s age, along with a probation violation. He was subsequently booked into the San Luis Obispo County Jail.

Full Article & Source:
Father-son altercation leads to elder abuse arrest

Friday, March 29, 2024

Orlando Commissioner Regina Hill arrested, faces charges of elderly exploitation, mortgage fraud

Florida authorities say case is still active

Daniel Dahm, Digital Content Manager
Treasure Roberts, Reporter

ORLANDO, Fla.Orlando Commissioner Regina Hill was arrested Thursday on several charges, including exploitation of the elderly/disabled, impersonation, scheme to defraud and mortgage fraud.

Hill, 58, is accused of exploiting a 96-year-old woman and taking more than $100,000 from her, according to an investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Hill was booked into jail on seven charges. During her first appearance Thursday, a judge said her $40,000 bond was already posted, and she was to have no contact with the victim or any witnesses. Hill left the jail Thursday afternoon.

“Mrs. Hill effectively betrayed the trust of her community by taking advantage of a 96-year-old elderly citizen, which is one of the most vulnerable in that community,” said FDLE Assistant Commissioner Lee Massie. “A victim who was the last of her family in the area was manipulated and lied to, her finances and personal information misused and abused for Hill’s personal benefit. Obviously extremely tragic.”

Court documents uncovered by News 6 show that FDLE was investigating whether Hill established a power of attorney over the woman and secured a mortgage for a home in the Lake Mann Estates area of Orlando, without the woman’s knowledge.

Investigators believe Hill’s son and his girlfriend live in the home, while Hill resides in a home in the Washington Shores neighborhood that once belonged to the elderly woman’s parents — and was not paying rent.

According to the documents, Hill also allegedly used more than $100,000 of the woman’s cash and credit cards to buy perfume, clothing, IV vitamins, a facelift, a trip to Miami, dental surgery and car insurance.

“What we can speak about and what we know from the interviews and what we’re allowed to say today is that the victim in this case was not aware of how much she had signed over to Commissioner Hill,” said FDLE Orlando Special Agent John Vecchio.

The FDLE documents show the agency received a tip last year from a former aide of Hill’s who had been fired from their job. The case is still active, according to Massie, as they await further tasks from the state attorney’s office.

The documents were part of a petition filed by the woman’s attorneys to keep Hill away from the woman’s finances and properties.

A judge issued a temporary injunction last week.

FDLE says they have no evidence at this time of any other victims.

Vecchio also said that while the evidence shows Hill met the victim through her work as Orlando city commissioner, none of the charges against her involved her office.

“The charges today have to do with her acting as a citizen, not in her official capacity,” Vecchio said. “So we need to stay focused on these crimes. She is charged because of what she did as a person.”

The city of Orlando on Thursday said it was aware of the arrest of Hill, who has been re-elected twice and is currently in her third term, which ends in 2026.

When asked about Hill’s future as a commissioner, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer’s office said in a statement, “We do not have any authority to discipline an elected official, including suspending them from office, as that power lies with the governor.”

If Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis were to suspend Hill, the city would work with the Supervisor of Elections to hold a special election to temporarily fill the District 5 city commission seat.

Before Hill was elected in 2014, Hill had been in and out of jail on a variety of charges, including possession of marijuana in 2005, when she was sentenced to six months of probation. In 2000, Hill was found guilty of disorderly intoxication.

Hill also was also arrested multiple times in Orange County on charges of possession of illegal substances, although many of those charges were dropped.

News 6 spoke with Raymond Traendly, a partner at TK Law, who commented on what cases like these entail.

“When you sign a power of attorney, you’re allowing a third party to act as your agent. That person as your agent has what’s called a fiduciary obligation,” Traendly explained. “That fiduciary obligation requires you to make sure you put the person whom you’re protecting’s needs first... When you’re paying for plastic surgery, buying a house that you’re living in and you’re residing, and you’re not making the best use of your funds, you are violating that legal duty.”

According to Traendly, Hill has a few routes to work with in terms of a legal defense.

“Ms. Hill’s best defense is (going to) be somehow establishing a paper trail showing that she was properly communicating with the victim, notifying her of what the charges were and obviously if there’s anything in writing that she was given permission to use these funds for her own personal use. That is going to be her best defense,” he said.

Full Article & Source:
Orlando Commissioner Regina Hill arrested, faces charges of elderly exploitation, mortgage fraud

See Also:
Orlando Commissioner Regina Hill accused of financial exploitation of 96-year-old woman

Police: Elderly victims evicted from 2 assisted living facilities because Pinellas man took their money

Scott Newmark is accused of taking nearly $70,000 from two elderly or disabled adults he was close to.

Author: Aaron Parseghian

CLEARWATER, Fla. — A Pinellas County man is behind bars, accused of stealing tens of thousands of dollars from two elderly and/or disabled adults he's close to. 

According to an affidavit obtained by 10 Tampa Bay, 26-year-old Scott Newmark is charged with two counts of felony exploitation of an elderly person or disabled adult.

Newmark is accused of taking nearly $70,000 from two elderly or disabled adults he was close to. The documents redact the names of the victims and their relationships.

Investigators say the victims allowed Newmark access to one of their bank accounts to act as an advisor, but he then used that position of trust to access other accounts.

“The defendant limited access to these other funds by the victims and completed several transactions including writing checks to himself, writing checks to his sister and purchasing a house for his personal use,” the affidavit reads.

Investigators say without access to the money for several years, the victims were evicted from two separate assisted living facilities, forcing them to move back in with Newmark in the home their money was allegedly used to pay for.

“The defendant exhausted all of the victims’ money through lies, fraud and deceit for approximately $69,300 in down payments for the house,” the officers’ statement continues.

The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office declined 10 Tampa Bay’s request for an interview. According to court records, Newmark is currently in the Pinellas County Jail being held on a $250,000 bond.

Records also show Newmark is facing a number of other charges in separate cases, including cruelty to animals, battery on a law enforcement officer and dealing in stolen property. 

He was arrested in November after multiple skeletal animal remains were found in his Seminole home, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.

Elderly exploitation, which Newmark is charged with in this case, is a nationwide problem magnified in Florida.

“We're talking about essentially fraud and theft,” says Attorney Charles Gallagher, talking to 10 Tampa Bay on background.  

“Our population is very much rich with folks that are older and elderly. And as a result, we do have more claims here probably than most other areas,” Gallagher added. 

According to the FBI, just last year in Florida there were 8,100 fraud victim reports regarding people at least 60 years old, including things like extortion and scams, with losses totaling more than $290 million. 

Attorneys like Gallagher say it’s important for seniors and their families to be aware of these kinds of issues.

"Communicating with the family member and getting a good idea of their capacity, if you see them declining, you want to go ahead and intercede sooner than later, you don't want to have something that already happened and lose assets and property and be worse off,” Gallagher explained. 

“Just yesterday I talked with a prospective client. They had concerns that their family member was befriending someone locally and going to the bank,” Gallagher added. 

Gallagher also says it’s a good reminder to consider getting a living will or trust in order.

"Planning is key and helpful in halting all of these problems before they happen,” Gallagher said. “Being proactive is key.”

If you believe a senior is at risk of abuse or exploitation, the state Department of Children and Families hotline can be reached at 1-800-962-2873.

Full Article & Source:
Police: Elderly victims evicted from 2 assisted living facilities because Pinellas man took their money

Thursday, March 28, 2024

Lessons Learned From Britney Spears’ Financial Conservatorship

By Stacy Francis, CFP®, CDFA®, CES™

The ongoing saga of Britney Spears and her conservatorship has shone a spotlight on the challenges associated with financial conservatorships, exposing both their potential benefits and serious pitfalls.

This legal arrangement, meant to protect those unable to handle their affairs due to mental or physical challenges, can transform into a precarious situation when misused. Spears' story, as told in her recent memoir, The Woman in Me, serves as a stark example of how a well-intentioned legal tool can turn into a distressing ordeal, sparking a call for reforms to uphold the autonomy and rights of individuals under conservatorships. Here are several possible reasons a conservatorship might go awry.

Loss of autonomy

New York attorney Jill H. Teitel reports, “Despite the legal protections put into place by the majority of states in the United States via the Uniform Guardianship, Conservatorship and Other Protective Arrangements Act, guardianship judges still remain protective and inflexible to the wards’ particular strengths and areas of independence out of fear that these persons will be taken advantage of by those who do not petition the court. By encouraging courts to issue orders reflecting the ability of wards to act independently, we have seen a shift in how the courts should view a person’s ability to make certain decisions for him/herself. However, for some persons, ironically, the effect of financial conservatorship is the unfortunate erosion of personal autonomy.”

Individuals under conservatorship surrender control over their financial decisions and personal lives to a court-appointed conservator. While this may be justified in cases of genuine incapacity, it often results in a loss of personal freedom. Spears' decade-long struggle highlights the emotional distress accompanying this loss of autonomy.

As attorney Laura Fischer says, “There is no greater loss than that of your own free will. It is imperative to manage your own planning and have the proper ancillary documents in place to specify under exactly what conditions your affairs should be managed and by which trusted individuals.”

Potential for abuse

Financial conservatorships create an environment prone to abuse, as conservators wield substantial power over the individual's assets. Financial abuse is a controlling tactic used by abusers over their victims in ways such as sabotaging income and access to money, restricting how the victim is allowed to use money and the things they can own and financially exploiting the victim’s financial situation by stealing or misuse of funds.

Fischer reminds us, “Abuse comes in all shapes and sizes, from physical to financial to mental. Establishing a care plan, in advance, with a team of knowledgeable professionals ensures that your carefully considered wishes can be fulfilled.”

Victims are often prevented from leaving their abusers because they lack the financial knowledge to be successfully independent. Teitel sees in her practice that “the cycle of dependence perpetuates, disempowering some wards to be in control of their financial situation.”

In the Spears case, concerns arose about financial mismanagement and excessive fees, raising questions about the exploitation of the conservatorship for financial gain. Abuse can manifest through misappropriation of funds or decisions prioritizing the conservator's interests over the individual's, jeopardizing financial stability.

Fischer points out, “Legal documents, themselves, can specify not only the persons in charge, but also the appropriate fees that are to be paid to them.”

Lack of accountability

While subject to court oversight, the scrutiny of financial conservatorships varies, allowing potential abuses to go unchecked. Spears’ situation underscores the need for robust oversight, emphasizing transparency and accountability in the conservatorship process.

“Even though the courts must adjudicate their cases pursuant to the law, if the attorneys and their clients are not motivated to use these alternatives to conservatorship and guardianship, wards will continue to suffer,” Teitel says.

It is a real definitive possibility that ending a conservatorship will be a prolonged and expensive legal process, placing additional burdens on the individual. Legal battles to regain financial control can deplete both financial and emotional resources. Spears’ enduring struggle exemplifies the challenges individuals face in reclaiming their autonomy. But “it is generally lack of clarity that creates opportunities for people to exploit individuals and their assets,” Fischer says. “Through deliberate and informed planning, one can lay out a clear plan that leaves no room for such exploitation.”

Stigma and mental health implications

Being under a conservatorship carries a significant stigma, potentially portraying the individual as incapable of making sound decisions. This can have detrimental effects on mental health and self-esteem, as demonstrated by Spears' revelations about the impact of the conservatorship on her well-being.


The Spears case highlights the hazards of financial conservatorships and the urgent need for legal reforms. Spears is not the only celebrity who has dealt publicly with these abuses. In September 2023, NFL player Michael Oher — who inspired the 2009 film The Blind Side — had his conservatorship terminated by Shelby County Probate Court Judge Kathleen Gomes. Oher signed the conservatorship under the misconception it was adoption papers when, in fact, it allowed Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy to have all powers of attorney to act on Oher’s behalf, and he was not allowed to enter any contracts or bind himself without the direct approval of his conservators.

While conservatorships can be necessary, careful monitoring is crucial to prevent abuse and preserve individual rights. Proposed reforms include enhanced transparency, regular capacity evaluations and mechanisms for individuals to petition for conservatorship termination. Addressing these issues is vital to strike a balance between protecting vulnerable individuals and safeguarding their fundamental rights and autonomy.

Full Article & Source:
Lessons Learned From Britney Spears’ Financial Conservatorship

See Also:
Britney Spears

Michael Oher

‘No more trusts:’ Fort Myers woman’s special needs trust drained, new trustee named for non-profit that’s missing $100M

by: Brittany Muller

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A federal judge has appointed a trustee to manage a local non-profit facing bankruptcy and allegations of missing money.

The Center for Special Needs Trust Administration promised to safeguard money meant to help provide for disabled people throughout their lives. 8 On Your Side has revealed the center’s founder stands accused of loaning himself 100 million dollars and never repaying it.

A Fort Myers family said it was a battle to get the money to care for Sarah Hall to begin with.

“This is the most the most disabled you can be, there isn’t a degree beyond this,” said Theresa Schlosser, Sarah’s mom.

Sarah needs around-the-clock care. The expected year 2000 crash came unexpectedly for Schlosser.

“She was involved in a wreck in the year 2000 when everyone thought the world would crash; there’s didn’t, ours did,” said Schlosser.

Sarah was 18 years old and 10 weeks pregnant at the time.

“She was driven under a parked semi at 60 mph,” said Schlosser.

A miracle happened six and a half months later.

“She’s the first person in Florida to give birth naturally while in a coma. She pushed my grandson out like she was awake,” said Schlosser.

Sarah is a fighter who battled cancer, survived the crash, and gave birth to a healthy baby boy. Sarah is now 41, and he is 22.

“He is the parent, and she is the child,” said Schlosser about her grandson. “He is the most loving, kind, gentle person that I know.”

“It pretty much means the world to me. I’ve done this since I was about 10,” said Sarahson Hall, Sarah’s son.

The car crash led to a lawsuit, which resulted in Sarah receiving a settlement and monthly annuity payments so her family could take care of her for the rest of her life.

“My lawyers advised me to put the money with the center, which I did in 2003,” said Schlosser. “I didn’t think twice about it. I trusted these people.”

Two months ago, Schlosser needed to buy a new wheelchair for Sarah, so she called the center.

“How much have I managed to save?” Schlosser recalls asking the center.

The center told her there was $192,000 in her daughter’s trust. Weeks later, Schlosser was in shock when she received a letter from the Center for Special Needs Trust Administration. That’s when she found out the center filed for bankruptcy on February 9.

“Out of 192,000, they took $181,000,” said Schlosser.

According to the bankruptcy filing, between 2009 and 2020, the center’s founder, Leo Govoni, got the center to loan 100 million dollars to his company, Boston Finance Group. The loan was to be repaid back by January 1, 2017, but the center said that never happened.

Records claim it wasn’t until Govoni’s daughter resigned and left an unsigned letter in April 2022 that the center’s board of directors found out about the loan. But two weeks ago, that same board resigned. Govoni was gone. The center had hired attorneys to find the money and initiate the bankruptcy.

“I trusted them,” said Schlosser. “I gave them an open dollar for them to take my daughter’s money and do whatever they wanted to do with it and invest it in themselves.”

When it was known to the center, and they were taking action to protect the victims, somehow more money still went missing. Sarah was left with about $10,000.

“How in your conscience do you decide to take what is helping her to live every day the best that she can live and take it away? Where do you find that in your soul?” said Schlosser.

Last week, a federal judge appointed a Chapter 11 Trustee to run the center’s operations. Attorney Michel Goldberg of the Akerman law firm was named as the Trustee. According to the Akerman website, Goldberg chairs his firm’s Fraud and Recovery Practice, “an experienced team of lawyers focused on unraveling high-profile investor fraud, including Ponzi schemes.”

But Schlosser believes it’s too late.

“No more trusts,” she said. “This is a system that obviously does not work, and it is potentially harmful to the very people that was it was established for.”

According to the Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Florida, there is a hearing at the Federal Courthouse in Tampa on Thursday. This is the first time we’re expecting to see all the key players involved in this case in person.

Full Article & Source:
‘No more trusts:’ Fort Myers woman’s special needs trust drained, new trustee named for non-profit that’s missing $100M

FBI Internet Crime Report Shows Jump in Hawai`i Losses

 Hawai`i residents and businesses reported losing $51.7 million to internet crimes in 2023, a huge 45 percent increase over the $35.8 million reported in 2022. The number of Hawai`i complaints reported also increased from 1,703 in 2022 to 1,954 last year, a 15 percent increase.

The internet crime losses and complaints in Hawai`i are growing faster than the national average, according to the annual FBI Internet Crime Report, released earlier this month. The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center said it received over 880,000 complaints last year with potential losses exceeding $12.5 billion nationally. That’s about a 10 percent increase in complaints from 2022 and a 22 percent increase in losses.

“The actual amount of fraud losses to internet crimes is likely much higher because many people and businesses don’t report crimes to authorities,” said AARP Hawai`i State Director Keali`i Lopez. “That’s why AARP Hawai`i tries to educate kupuna and their loved ones about fraud prevention through the AARP Fraud Watch Network (”

The top three crime types most frequently reported by victims were phishing/spoofing, personal data breach, and non-payment/non-delivery. The new FBI report says top three crime types reported by victims of fraud loss are investment scams, business email compromise (BEC), and tech support scams. Phishing and spoofing schemes had over 298,000 complaints reported in 2023. Personal data breaches had over 55,000 complaints reported, and non-payment/non-delivery scams had 50,000 complaints.

The top three crime types reported by victims of fraud loss were investment scams, business email compromise (BEC), and tech support scams.

“Education can help protect ourselves, our workplaces and loved ones from fraud,” said Paul Greenwood, a former elder abuse prosecutor and AARP fraud speaker, who is coming to Hawai`i for a series of Fight Fraud Together seminars on Kauai, Hawai`i Island, Oahu and Maui April 22nd through April 26. The seminars will look at some of Hawai`i’s top frauds and strategies for spotting and avoiding fraud and financial exploitation.

Register for the free seminars and an April 5 webinar at 10:30 a.m. with Amy Nofziger, AARP Fraud Watch Network’s director of victim support, at or go to or the AARP Hawai`i Facebook page to see all the events AARP is offering.

“At the Fraud Watch Network, we’re seeing an increase in cryptocurrency scams and online commerce scams targeting both sellers and victims,” Nofziger said. “Our Anatomy of a Scam webinar will take an in-depth look at internet and social media marketplace scams.”

Nationally, investment fraud was the biggest source of lost money, rising to $4.57 billion in 2023, a 38% increase from 2022. Within these numbers, crypto-investment fraud losses rose to $3.94 billion in 2023, a 53% increase from 2022. Business email complaints amounted to $2.9 billion in reported losses, and tech support scams were the third highest losses with over $924 million reported stolen.

Victims 30 to 49 years old were the most likely group to report losses from investment fraud, while those over 60 accounted for well over half of losses to tech support scams.

Ransomware continued to be damaging and impactful in 2023. IC3 received over 2,800 ransomware complaints and losses rose to $59.6 million, a 74% increase from last year. The critical infrastructure most reported as impacted by ransomware were health care and public health, critical manufacturing, and government facilities.

In a news release, the FBI said the Internet Crime Complaint Center gives the public a direct way to report cyber threats, complex financial crimes and other online threats. The FBI encourages victims to report suspected internet crimes at

The Internet Crime Complaint Center was established in May 2000 to receive complaints of online-related crimes. Since its inception, IC3 has received over eight million complaints.

The FBI recommends that the public frequently review consumer and industry alerts published by the Internet Crime Complaint Center.

Full Article & Source:
FBI Internet Crime Report Shows Jump in Hawai`i Losses

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Care facilities fined for failure to administer CPR, failure to call 911

By: Clark Kauffman

A pair of Iowa care facilities are facing sanctions for failing to provide medical assistance for their residents, two of whom died.

Earlier this month, the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals proposed, but held in suspension, an $8,700 fine for the Aspire of Donnellson nursing home. In that case, the home had failed to attempt cardio-pulmonary resuscitation, or CPR, for two residents, both of whom died.

In the first of those two cases, according to state reports, a male resident of the home was found in his bed at 5:15 a.m. on Jan. 18, ashen colored with no pulse or respirations. The aide who found him later told inspectors the man was still warm when found. According to the inspectors, the aide had checked on the man after noticing his light was on, suggesting he was up or at least awake.

After noticing the man wasn’t breathing, the aide summoned a nurse and asked whether they should initiate CPR. The aide allegedly told inspectors the nurse never answered and instead called the family to report the man was dead.

The nurse told inspectors that he had not been “exactly sure” about the resident’s code status which would indicate whether attempts to resuscitate him should be made, according to state reports. He acknowledged, however, that it was later determined the man was “full code,” indicating CPR should have been attempted.

Eleven days after that incident, a female resident of the home was found unresponsive in bed at about 10 p.m. The woman’s guardian and family were notified, and a funeral home was summoned to pick up the body. Although the resident was “full code,” no one on staff had attempted CPR, according to state reports.

According to inspectors, the nurse who examined the resident that night later stated she didn’t know the resident’s code status. but said the woman’s hands and feet were purple in color. An aide who was present said the woman was still warm when found. A third employee who worked that night told inspectors she didn’t know how to determine a resident’s code status and hadn’t been trained in such matters, according to state records.

Separately, the state inspections department fined the Silvercrest Garner Farms assisted living program $3,500 for failing to promptly contact emergency medical services for a resident who was in respiratory distress.

Early on the morning of March 2, the staff found a resident on the floor, with her oxygen-saturation level somewhere in the range of 90% to 100%, according to state records. (Typically, an oxygen-saturation level below 92% is considered dangerous.) The staff reported they telephoned the on-call nurse and left a message but never received a call-back.

Later that day, the resident was again found on the floor, this time with their oxygen-saturation level in the 80s, suggesting urgent intervention was needed. Again, the staff reported calling the on-call nurse and leaving a message, but without receiving a call-back.

The following evening, the resident’s daughter found the resident lying on the floor with an oxygen-saturation level in the 80s. The daughter asked that her mother be sent to the hospital and 911 was called.

According to state inspectors, the director of nursing later concluded the staff had failed to ensure that the correct on-call schedule for nurses was available to workers. The on-call nurse the staff had been trying to reach wasn’t even employed by the facility at the time of the incident, according to inspectors.

The inspectors’ report does not indicate whether the resident survived, but notes that after she was taken to the hospital, she was admitted for treatment of COVID-19.

Full Article & Source:
Care facilities fined for failure to administer CPR, failure to call 911

Georgia woman facing over 90 charges for fraud, elderly exploitation with funds totaling over $60k

By News Staff 

CARROLL COUNTY, Ga. — A Carrollton woman is facing charges of fraud and exploitation against the elderly.

According to the Buchanan Police Department, eight warrants have been issued for Johnna Hannah, 28, following a February investigation that revealed dozens of instances of financial abuse of elderly people.

Chief Ratner with BPD said he got a call from Countryside Healthcare concerning a report of irregular bookkeeping.

He said a victim told him a credit/debit card had been used on a special occasion.

Ratner asked for warrants to check the books handled by the business manager and two weeks later, he got a list of checks used and tracked them. There were 39 victims at the time.

He said there were 39 fraud account charges and 39 counts of exploitation of the elderly.

According to police, Hannah bonded out on the first four warrants.

Ratner then sent a subpoena for the bank records of Hannah at the Navy Credit Union.

When he got the results back on Mar. 15, he found more fraud checks.

One included a 78-year-old man who was a former steelworker who signed money over to her thinking it would pay for his funeral expenses.

After that, police said there were eight more warrants: 4 for account fraud and 4 for elderly exploitation.

Police said Hannah is facing approximately 93 charges combined of account fraud and elder exploitation, with the funds totaling $64,381.

Full Article & Source:
Georgia woman facing over 90 charges for fraud, elderly exploitation with funds totaling over $60k

Plymouth resident sentenced on elder exploitation charges


PLYMOUTH — Michelle Trojano, who previously pleaded guilty to two counts of felony theft, has been sentenced by Grafton Superior Court to 12 months of incarceration. She has also been ordered to pay restitution to her victims.

Trojano, 30, of Plymouth, was prosecuted by the Attorney General’s Office Elder Abuse and Financial Exploitation Unit for two thefts, each considered felonies involving amounts greater than $1,500.

The first charge accused Trojano of exercising control of another person’s bank account from December 2017 to June 2019, “with a purpose to deprive” the rightful owners of the account, according to a press release from the Attorney General’s office. On this charge, Trojano was sentenced to 12 months in the house of corrections, and was ordered to pay $159,759.54 in restitution.

A second charge held that Trojano had gained similar control over another person’s bank account from April 2 to April 26, 2019. For this charge, Trojano was given a suspended sentence of up to seven years in state prison, and was ordered to pay restitution of $8,300.

A LinkedIn profile matching Trojano’s name listed her occupation as a teacher at New Hampton School. A person who works in New Hampton School’s human resources department said Trojano is not currently an employee of the school, but couldn’t say whether she had previously worked there.

The case was investigated by Plymouth Police Department and prosecuted by Bryan J. Townsend II, senior assistant attorney general, of the elder abuse and financial exploitation unit.

Full Article & Source:
Plymouth resident sentenced on elder exploitation charges

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

STATEHOUSE: Kansas Senate passes expansion of Silver Alert program

Emporia, KS, USA / KVOE
Chuck Samples

The Kansas Senate has passed a bill that would expand the state’s Silver Alert system.

Traditionally used whenever senior citizens go missing, Senate Bill 371 is designed to expand the alert system to include missing people ages 18 or older with intellectual disabilities. The bill passed unanimously, including a yes vote from 17th District Senator Jeff Longbine of Emporia, and now goes to the Kansas House for discussion.

Separately, the Senate overwhelmingly passed House Bill 2562, creating the Protect Vulnerable Adults from Financial Exploitation Act. This will mandate a broker-dealer or financial investment adviser to report confirmed or attempted exploitation. It would also give broker-dealers or investment advisers the authority to delay transactions or disbursements whenever financial exploitation is expected. Longbine was in the 38-2 majority after the bill passed the House unanimously.

STATEHOUSE: Kansas Senate passes expansion of Silver Alert program

Two in Marion County charged with financial crimes against the elderly

– Detectives with the Marion County Sheriff’s Department have charged two people with stealing more than $17,000 from a disabled, elderly person.

The complaint originated from Adult Protective Services on March 8 about potentially fraudulent charges shown on an elderly victim’s bank statement.

Detectives were told that Amy Owens, 27, of Fairmont, had the victim’s card and had no permission to use it, but there were transactions from November 2023 to February 2024 that totaled $5,827.50.

During that period, Owens allegedly told the victim the card had been frozen due to fraudulent activity and the account could not be accessed.

While reviewing bank statements from the victim, detectives learned there were several CashApp transactions made to Wesley Burton, 31, of Fairmont. Deputies said the victim cannot move without assistance, and Owens is not listed as the caregiver.

Detectives determined the transactions from September 2023 through the end of February 2024 totaled $17,947.41.

Owens and Burton have been charged with financial exploitation of the elderly.

Both are being held in the North Central Regional Jail.

Full Article & Source:
Two in Marion County charged with financial crimes against the elderly

Area Agency on Aging hosting event aimed at combating elder abuse

UPPER SANDUSKY — The Ohio District 5 Area Agency on Aging and Wyandot County Department of Job and Family Services Adult Protective Services (APS) have collaborated to host a community event aimed at combating elder abuse, scams and exploitation. It will take place 10 a.m.-noon April 22 at Trinity Evangelical Church, 108 Malabar Drive, Upper Sandusky.

The effort brings together experts, community organizations and citizens to address critical issues affecting older adults and also will highlight resources to enhance healthy aging while staying safe.

It will include a panel discussion with experts from Adult Protective Services, the Area Agency on Aging and other specialized professionals will engage in a panel discussion. They will share insights, strategies and best practices to safeguard older adults from abuse and financial exploitation.

The event will include a resource fair featuring community organizations committed to supporting the well-being and health of older adults. Attendees can connect with representatives from Wyandot County Department of Job and Family Services, other organizations from Wyandot County and the Area Agency on Aging.

A light brunch will be provided, encouraging networking and community building. Giveaways will be provided.

The event is free, and RSVPs are not required.

Full Article & Source:
Area Agency on Aging hosting event aimed at combating elder abuse

Monday, March 25, 2024

Study finds treating self-neglect among older adults can prevent later abuse

By Rose Lundy

Researchers point to an advocacy program in Maine that works with Adult Protective Services as one solution to preventing exploitation. 

A new study found that almost 40 percent of elder mistreatment cases began with self-neglect. Photo by Jeremy Poland/iStock.

A few years ago, Adult Protective Services put Polly Madson Cox in touch with an older woman who was neglecting herself. She lived alone, struggled to meet her basic needs and was on the verge of eviction.

Madson Cox, who was an advocate with the Elder Abuse Institute of Maine, worked with the woman to try and find a way to stay in her apartment. During that time, the woman invited someone to live with her. Madson Cox soon learned this person was exploiting her, controlling her medications, ability to leave the house and her finances.

A recent study found this is a common problem. An analysis of Maine APS investigations published online last month by the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that older adults who neglect themselves often experience other mistreatment at the same time and are at risk of further abuse.

Addressing cases of self-neglect may prevent later abuse, said the study’s lead author, Dr. Stuart Lewis, an associate professor at Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine.

Advocates in Maine said the study findings reinforce the work of a program that was piloted in 2019 under the Elder Abuse Institute of Maine.

“Self-neglect is a huge unmet need in elder mistreatment,” Lewis said. “It has been, historically, a very difficult circumstance to intervene in ways that provide benefit to the person.”

Despite Madson Cox’s efforts, her client was eventually evicted. She worked with the woman as she moved to a hospital, then later into an assisted living facility. She was evicted with only the clothes on her back, so Madson Cox helped her get more clothing and regain access to her finances.

“I think we are incredibly instrumental and a special program,” Madson Cox said. “To meet all those needs, to be able to be involved with her all those months. In that case she was in three different counties across the state of Maine — and I was the sole constant for her.”

Self-neglect, which makes up half of APS investigations nationally, occurs when someone no longer has the capacity for self-care.

Often this means failing to eat appropriately, care for their home, maintain good hygiene or manage their financial affairs, according to the 2021 Adult Maltreatment Report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Madson Cox said some indicators of self-neglect could be unsafe housing, such as holes in the roof, rotted floorboards or an infestation; unpaid bills, disabled utilities or banking concerns; concerns about hygiene; and lack of access to medical care or trouble managing their medications.

Patricia Kimball, the study co-author and executive director of the Elder Abuse Institute of Maine, said it’s difficult to address self-neglect because clients often don’t see themselves as victims. Even the term “self-neglect” is stigmatizing, she said, because it blames the person for their situation when there may be factors out of their control.

To examine how self-neglect relates to other forms of mistreatment, researchers analyzed nearly 18,000 Maine APS investigations from July 2017 to October 2021, looking at cases in which the first substantiated allegation was self-neglect. 

The study found that about half of the individuals who were first reported for self-neglect also experienced other mistreatment at the same time. And almost 40 percent of elder mistreatment cases began with self-neglect. 

The study found that the time period between a report of self-neglect and another allegation is often less than a year, ranging from 215 to 388 days, much shorter than what was published in a previous study, Lewis said.

“What’s important about it is (self-neglect) often occurs at the same time as other forms of abuse; that it’s a risk factor for later abuse; and that by treating it, you may potentially prevent other abuse later on,” Lewis said.

Self-neglect shares risk factors with other elder mistreatment, such as physical disability, social isolation, cognitive impairment and lack of social support, according to the study. 

The study was conducted using Maine APS cases collected during a pilot program of the RISE model. This model — “Repair harm; Inspire change; Support connections; Empower choice” — is a new national approach designed to address elder abuse in a way that reduces harm while respecting the individual’s autonomy. Advocates refrain from pressuring clients to make certain decisions about their lifestyle and only provide the support the client seeks, Madson Cox said.

“We respect that clients have the right to make their own decisions and we understand that clients have that right even when their choices might make us or other people uncomfortable, or might make choices that are in opposition to those people around them,” Madson Cox said.

Two individuals hold each other's hands in a sign of comforting the other in this stock image.
The study found that about half of the individuals who were first reported for self-neglect also experienced other mistreatment at the same time. And almost 40 percent of elder mistreatment cases began with self-neglect. Photo by kitzcorner/iStock

Maine’s RISE pilot project, called Elder Service Connections, started in 2019 by pairing advocates from the Elder Abuse Institute of Maine with APS caseworkers to work on investigations in Aroostook and Cumberland counties.

The advocates were trained in motivational interviewing and supported decision-making, and were able to stay with clients long after APS might be required to close a case. Madson Cox said the time they work with clients can vary greatly, but is usually less than a year.

Data shows the RISE approach works: Clients are significantly less likely to end up back in the APS system after working with a RISE advocate.

To date, the program has received 752 referrals. It expanded in 2021 to include the entire state, and there are currently eight advocates. The budget Gov. Janet Mills signed last year dedicated $800,000 annually to the program. 

Madson Cox, who worked as a RISE advocate for about a year and a half and now oversees the program, said she has seen the findings of the self-neglect study mirrored in her work.

She mentioned the case of a woman in her 70s who was reported for self-neglect because her furnace wasn’t working. The woman had no hot water, struggled to get her snow plowed and was heating her home by using the oven and space heaters. She was paying an exorbitant electric bill, had trouble bathing without hot water and couldn’t get out of her home to access health care.

Advocates spent months working with her, and Madson Cox said as they got to know the client, she disclosed that a community member was financially exploiting her by charging an excessive price for snow removal, and a family member was being verbally abusive and stealing her medication. The advocates were able to fix the furnace, help with the utility bill, secure a new snow removal service and get her medication delivered directly.

“We have the luxury of being able to work with people for a much greater amount of time,” Madson Cox said. “Some of the (conditions) were known as the client became comfortable with us and began trusting us to disclose.”

The RISE system can also work with others in the client’s orbit, including someone who may be exploiting them, Kimball said.

This approach recognizes that often what the older adult wants more than anything is help for a loved one who may be struggling — with addiction, for instance — even if they are the ones exploiting them.

“Often in maltreatment and abuse situations, our clients want the alleged harmer to get help,” Madson Cox said. “They’re not in a place to make choices to sever the relationship or be estranged.”

This article was written with the support of a journalism fellowship from The Gerontological Society of America, The Journalists Network on Generations and The Silver Century Foundation.

Full Article & Source:
Study finds treating self-neglect among older adults can prevent later abuse

Man charged with financially exploiting his elderly father

By Ryan Shiner

A man was charged late Wednesday in Cole County with financially exploiting his elderly father.

Michael Kliethermes was charged with financially exploiting an elderly person and misappropriating funds for a nursing home. A warrant was issued for his arrest on Thursday and a $25,000 bond was set.

His wife, Holly Kliethermes, was charged early Wednesday with financially exploiting an elderly person. Court records show that a warrant was served Thursday and she posted a $25,000 bond. An arraignment in her case is set for 9 a.m. April 26 at the Cole County Circuit Court.

Court documents say the couple took $72,903.59 and didn’t pay for the victim’s nursing home care. 

On Oct. 18, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services received a referral alleging financial exploitation, claiming that Michael Kliethermes was not paying for his father’s care at Stonebridge Senior Living.

The probable cause statement says that Michael Kliethermes obtained the power of attorney on Nov. 4, 2021, and the couple started using the account on Nov. 8, 2021, by paying for a bank Visa card and expenses charged to it.

On Nov. 15, 2023, law enforcement interviewed Michael Kliethermes, who allegedly admitted to cashing his father’s tax return checks, but claimed he used it to by his father “goodies,” according to court documents.

Kliethermes claimed he was aware of a $50,000 balance due to the nursing him, the probable cause statement says. When law enforcement told him that $72,000 was taken from his father’s account, Kliethermes blamed his wife, the statement says.

Full Article & Source:
Man charged with financially exploiting his elderly father

Some charges dropped in Candler County elder abuse case

Ralph Cowart and Meghan McCullough(Candler County Sheriff's Office)

By WTOC Staff

CANDLER COUNTY, Ga. (WTOC) - Some charges in a case of elder neglect in Candler County have been dismissed.

The co-owner and executive director of Southern Manor were arrested last August.

The Candler County Clerk of Court confirming to WTOC today two charges have been dropped against Ralph Cowart and Meghan McCullough.

They are still charged with exploitation and intimidation of disabled adults, elder person and residents, along with failure to report a case of abuse of disabled adult.

They were originally also facing neglect and reckless conduct charges, but again, those have been dropped.

Full Article & Source:
Some charges dropped in Candler County elder abuse case

Sunday, March 24, 2024

My elderly cousin’s nursing home coerced her into changing her will — and selling her house. She was worth millions. Can they get away with this?

by Quentin Fottrell

Dear Quentin,

My wife had a cousin, “Bob,” who was married and had no children. He told her that he and his wife, “Mary,” had made new wills, prepared by an attorney, and that he had made sure that if he died first, Mary would state that my wife would inherit part of their estate.

Here is what happened: Bob’s estate, which was worth several million dollars, passed to Mary after he died. We thought everything was in order so that when Mary passed away, part of her and Bob’s estate would go to my wife. That didn’t happen.

Mary was in her nineties when Bob passed away. She moved into an assisted-living facility, leaving her house vacant. My wife and Mary, who was then 93 years old, had frequent telephone conversations about her health and welfare.

She was pressured to change her will

One day, out of the blue, Mary called my wife and stated that the facility she was living in was pressuring her to change her will and to leave all of her estate to the facility’s trust fund, leaving nothing to her or her late husband’s families.

She asked my wife what she thought she should do. My wife told her that Bob wouldn’t approve of her changing her will, as he had stated that he wanted their estate to go to their distant family members. Later, we called the facility she was living in to inquire about her welfare.

We were told Mary died two months ago. We asked why her family wasn’t notified and were told we would have to talk to her attorney. When we contacted the attorney, we were told that the attorney had attempted to call family members, but none of the numbers worked.

Nursing home received her millions

Mary had the correct phone number for my wife. We asked what was going to happen to Mary’s estate, and the attorney stated she had been granted power of attorney for Mary and had helped her write a new will that left everything to the facility’s trust fund.

We believe Mary was under duress when she changed her will and feel sure there was criminal intent in the way things happened. We contacted the police department in the town where Mary died and filed an elder-abuse case, which the district attorney wouldn’t take.

Unfortunately, Mary’s house had been sold a month before she passed away. We believe that the trust fund and attorney worked together to steal the estate, leaving nothing to family members, and that it’s probably not the first time this has played out involving these people.

Feeling Duped in Texas

“One reason people act so brazenly is because they are betting on your lack of knowledge about the legal system.” - MarketWatch illustration

Dear Duped,

The red flag was the phone call from Mary, alerting your wife to the fact that the management of the facility wanted her to change her will. In an ideal world, you would have called a lawyer then. In an even more ideal world, Bob would have set up a trust before he died.

It’s easy to believe that people who own and run a nursing home or assisted-living facility will respect their duty of care over their clients and patients. They benefit from a halo effect, perhaps because we believe kind, honorable people choose this work as a vocation.

But there are, of course, many bad actors in this industry. Just one example: This nursing home in New York illegally diverted millions of dollars of Medicare and Medicaid funds and covered up reports of sexual assault while its residents lived in squalid and unsafe conditions.

It seems inconceivable that an attorney would cooperate in such a scheme and risk losing their license, unless they too were somehow benefiting. One reason people act so brazenly is because they are betting on your lack of knowledge about the legal system.

Hire an elder-care attorney

Texas law does allow you to challenge a will that was made under duress or undue influence, particularly in a case such as this, where the person with power of attorney and the beneficiary represent the nursing-home facility upon which your cousin’s wife was entirely dependent.

At first glance, you have a very strong case, and you should not allow your experience with the district attorney’s office to deter you. Another thing bad actors are counting on: In Texas, after a will has been probated, there is a two-year statute of limitations to contest it.

“If you believe that there are grounds to contest a will, it’s crucial to act quickly and seek the guidance of an experienced attorney,” says the law firm Texas Probate Litigation. “But contesting or defending a will in Texas is not for the faint of heart. It’s a complex process.”

You’re already feeling helpless and have a statute of limitations hanging over your head. Challenging a will is time-consuming, stressful and sometimes expensive, and you will need to collect paperwork, bank records, a copy of the will and circumstantial evidence.

Talk to an elder-care attorney and explain your case. Some will take your case without a retainer if they believe they have a good chance of winning. The Texas Legal Services Center, the Volunteer Legal Services Free Legal Clinics and others offer services for eligible individuals.

The good news: Your wife is classified as an “interested person,” typically an heir or beneficiary, and as such has the right to contest this will. Don’t allow the brazen actions of this facility or their attorney to deter you. A nursing home “trust fund”? That is immediately suspicious.

Depressingly, rates of elder abuse are high in institutions such as nursing homes and long-term care facilities, according to this report by the World Health Organization. “Abuse of older people is predicted to increase as many countries are experiencing rapidly aging populations,” it says.

Mary was isolated in this nursing home and, rather than being a safe place, she was taken advantage of. Texas, like other states, has a hotline you can call if you suspect an elderly relative is being abused, physically, emotionally, verbally, sexually or financially.

Questions to prove undue influence 

“Demonstrating the presence of undue influence may involve a variety of factors,” according to the Johnson Firm, a law firm based in Texas. “For instance, did the person leave a bequest that seems unnaturally generous to someone in a position of influence?” Yes.

“Was a beneficiary a fiduciary or trusted advisor to the deceased?” Yes. “Were the expected beneficiaries entirely cut out of the estate?” Yes. “Was the testator in a compromised position or weakened mental capacity of any kind, making them susceptible to influence?” Yes.

“Disputing the validity of a will based upon undue influence begins by filing a lawsuit,” the firm adds. ”The case will typically be assigned to a Texas probate Judge depending upon the county in which the case arises. Will disputes may be heard by a Judge or jury in some instances.”

As you say, if they did it once, they will probably do it again, and they have probably done it in the past. Elderly patients’ estates should not be treated like ATMs by caregivers. There are a lot of good, honest and decent people in this industry, but Mary’s experience gives them a bad name.

Full Article & Source:
My elderly cousin’s nursing home coerced her into changing her will — and selling her house. She was worth millions. Can they get away with this?

Lancaster Police Shut Down Second Illegal Senior Home, Vow to Protect Elderly from Exploitation

Lancaster's finest has once again cracked down on illegal operations preying on the city’s elderly, shutting down a covert senior home on Thursday. 

As reported by the City of Lancaster, this marks the second bust of its kind, with the previous sting occurring last fall.

Police Chief Rodrick Armalin led his team into a residential area where they discovered a quartet of seniors toiling in conditions described as inhumane.

The raid revealed that two of the elderly required urgent medical attention.

"It is utterly unacceptable that anyone would prey on our senior citizens, exploiting them for profit," said Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris, clearly outraged by the neglect laid bare.

To swiftly combat such neglect, local law enforcement ensures to regularly remove at-risk seniors from these hazardous settings and pursue charges against those responsible.

In what has now become a series of these interventions, the Lancaster Police Department has made it abundantly clear that they are not about to turn a blind eye to elder exploitation.

These illegal facilities not only skip out on the necessary greasing of bureaucratic wheels but frequently flirt with outright fraud.

Thursday's operation concluded with the property being red-tagged and the seniors being placed in safer environments.

Chief Armalin has praised the city's collective spirit in tackling this moral crisis, iterating, "This operation is another example of what we can achieve when we come together as a community and as law enforcement." With Mayor Parris vowing an unbroken resolve to protect Lancaster's elderly, the message rings loud and clear: the town's seniors are to be treated with dignity—or else. 

The local officials continue to urge any individuals with knowledge of such illegal operations to step forward in the protection of their seniors.

Lancaster, renowned for its innovation and diversity, is taking a stand to ensure it remains a community where each resident, regardless of age, is accorded the care and respect they deserve. More information can be found by contacting the Lancaster Police Department, or by visiting their website.

Full Article & Source:
Lancaster Police Shut Down Second Illegal Senior Home, Vow to Protect Elderly from Exploitation