Saturday, April 6, 2024

Huntington businessman files for guardianship of elderly woman, but her son wants it dismissed

By Chris Dickerson

WAYNE – A Cincinnati man has filed a motion to dismiss a guardianship case regarding his elderly mother that was filed by a prominent Huntington businessman.

Ben Coffman Jr. filed the motion to dismiss April 2 in Wayne Circuit Court in response to the petition filed last month by Marshall Reynolds and Kaleb Cihon. The petition says Reynolds and Cihon seek the appointment of a guardian and/or conservator for Melanie Coffman, the alleged protected person in the case.

Cihon’s petition lists him as the proposed guardian and Reynolds as the proposed conservator. It lists Cihon as Melanie Coffman’s “unadopted son” and Reynolds as a “family friend.”

But in his motion to dismiss, Coffman says he is the only surviving child of Melanie and Ben Coffman Sr. and has been their acting guardian and power of attorney since early 2022 when the health of both of his parents began failing and official power of attorney since August 17, 2023.

Coffman’s father attended Vinson High School in Huntington with Reynolds. His father later played basketball at the University of Kentucky for legendary coach Adolph Rupp.

Coffman’s father passed away in February, and Coffman says he and his wife Kate have been providing full-time care to his mother at his home in Cincinnati. In fact, Coffman’s motion says his mother just returned home March 30 after being treated at a Cincinnati-area hospital for nine days.

“At that time they made me an owner or beneficiary of their accounts and assets and I also started managing their medical, home and life needs,” Coffman wrote in his pro se motion. “In addition, my mother resides in my home in Cincinnati, Ohio. All of her life needs including insurance, doctors, finances, family and friends, et al. are in Cincinnati, Ohio.

“This is where she was born and raised and has lived much of her life. All of her family is located here as well. Me, my wife Kate Coffman, my five sons (her grandsons) and one great grandson.”

In the original petition, Cihon lists himself as a de facto guardian, conservator, medical power of attorney, representative or appointed surrogate responsible for Melanie Coffman’s care or custody and says no one else has been designated as a surrogate decision maker, but it does say Cihon believes Ben Coffman Jr. is a duly appointed power of attorney for his mother.

A guardianship hearing in the case is scheduled for April 9 at the Wayne County Courthouse.

In his motion, Coffman says a guardian hearing requires the alleged protection person – his mother in this case – be there in person or have an evaluation done. He says that can’t happen because his mother is “unfit to travel at this time.”

But Cihon’s petition disputes that claim by checking a box that says she has no incapacity that keeps her from attending. It also claims Melanie Coffman has not nominated a different guardian or conservator.

Coffman’s motion, of course, disputes both of those claims.

“The court cannot conduct a hearing on the merits of this petition without the presence of the protected person unless one of the following is submitted to the court at the beginning of the hearing,” the original court filing says, listing the acceptable submission as a physician’s affidavit, qualified expert testimony or evidence that the person refuses to appear.

Cihon’s petition also says Melanie Coffman “suffers from severe dementia and is unable to fully care for herself or finances.”

And in a separate motion for leave to file the petition without evaluation report, Cihon says he “does not possess a power of attorney or medical power of attorney to authorize the physician to execute the required evaluation report” and says he seeks an order from the court authorizing Melanie Coffman’s physician(s) to “conduct and complete the necessary evaluation report.”

Reynolds and Cihon are being represented by Matthew Ward of Dinsmore & Shohl in Huntington. Ward did not return multiple messages seeking comment on the case. The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Jason Fry.

Wayne Circuit Court case number 24-G-7

Full Article & Source:
Huntington businessman files for guardianship of elderly woman, but her son wants it dismissed

‘She cleaned him out’: My dying father, who had stage 4 cancer, moved in with his girlfriend. In 3 months, she sold his house and pocketed the money.

by Quentin Fottrell

Dear Quentin,

Three months before passing away, my father moved back with his girlfriend and made her power of attorney so she could sell his house, pay bills and make medical decisions.

She cleaned out his bank accounts and she sold his house. He had stage 4 cancer and was not physically able to handle his business. As power of attorney, she put her name on his bank account, changed his beneficiaries and stopped communicating with his family. How can I find out she was added to the bank account and changed his beneficiaries?

She flipped the title on his car, sold all his furniture and told us that our dad didn’t leave me or my sister anything. He was not married and he had two daughters. His house sold five days before he died and unless he has some other bank accounts, the money ($200,000) went into the account she put her name on.

I am currently waiting for the survivors’ department of the federal government to send me the packet with a list of beneficiaries on his life insurance as well as his retirement/pension. I am also waiting on his death certificate in order to open probate to see what other assets he has. I appreciate any advice you can give to help me navigate through this difficult situation.

Does a POA have the authority to make these types of changes and cut his direct heirs out of everything, and keep everything for herself?

Daughter of the Deceased

Dear Daughter,

From what you say, this woman should be prosecuted — not placated.

A power of attorney who appropriates an elderly person’s assets using undue influence and/or the intent to defraud can face criminal and civil penalties. Larceny, the theft of someone’s property, is a felony in most states, depending on the amount stolen. She is likely betting on your legal inexperience and good nature to get away with it.

She was not his wife, and as his on-again, off-again girlfriend, her actions vastly overstepped her role as a power of attorney, who is in a position of trust and has a fiduciary duty to act on behalf of the principal and in their best interests. Clearly, she was acting in her own best interests, selling his assets and putting them in newly created joint bank accounts.

There is a statute of limitations on elder financial abuse in most states, and you should treat this as such. It’s not the Case of the Greedy Girlfriend, to paraphrase the alliterative episode titles of Perry Mason; it’s more likely the Case of the Illegal Interloper. You need to rethink your entire approach to this situation, and hire an elder-law attorney.

I assume your father’s girlfriend did not leave much, if anything. You need to stop waiting for information to come through the mail, and stop treating this like an unfortunate series of events. A power of attorney can, with the cooperation of the principal — your father — add themselves as a joint owner on a bank account, rather than just a co-signer.

Your father’s girlfriend did what this nursing home did to this reader’s elderly cousin. She isolated him and took control over his bank accounts, manipulated him into signing over his bank accounts rather than just signing over the right to make withdrawals on those bank accounts, and abused her role as power of attorney to help herself to his estate.

The Securities Industries and Financial Markets Association, or Simfa, has a checklist for financial abuse: “Numerous withdrawals of smaller amounts.” Tick. “Changing power of attorney or the beneficiaries on insurance or investment accounts.” Tick. She went one step further: She liquidated the whole kit and caboodle.

As Simfa warns, she is essentially a caregiver who becomes overly interested in your father’s finances rather than his care. It recommends people in your position to contact an Eldercare Locator information specialist toll-free on 800-677-1116 weekdays, 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern time. It has both English- and Spanish-speaking specialists.

Laws overseeing fiduciary relationships

Many states have laws that protect against the abuse of fiduciary relationships. “A beneficiary designation can also be contested for lack of capacity if there is evidence the account holder was not of sound mind when they signed the form,” according to Harrison Estate Law, a Gainesville, Fla.-based law firm.

“Many financial institutions allow account holders to change their beneficiary designations online,” the law firm adds. “This creates a greater chance for undue influence or fraud, but it can also make it harder to win a beneficiary-designation challenge. It also motivates banks and financial institutions to defend beneficiary-designation challenges.”

Let this give you the momentum to proceed with legal action. Harrison Estate Law cites a case where a Florida appeals court ruled that a pay-on-death designation in favor of the deceased’s caretaker should be invalidated due to undue influence. The caretaker had used her personal relationship with the deceased to change the beneficiary designation.

The court said that since payable-on-death and transfer-on-death accounts are substitutes for a will, they “are subject to challenge on grounds such as undue influence, fraud, duress and overreaching.” Challenging such designations require bank records, and other paperwork; an experienced attorney can help you with the heavy lifting.

Power of attorney is a powerful legal document, but their responsibilities last only while the person is alive. The executor of the will — if one exists — or administrator of the estate should take over the accounting of the remaining assets and debts. You can petition the court to remove your father’s girlfriend, if she is the executor/administrator.

Her actions should also be reported to the local police or sheriff’s office and your District Attorney. “It is important to note that the principal’s financial assets are always considered to belong to the principal, not the agent,” according to the McAndrews Law Offices, which has branches in Pennsylvania, Delaware and Virginia.

Your father’s case illustrates that you can’t always rely on banks or lawyers to be on the lookout for elder financial abuse and suspicious behavior. You have to be the watchful one because, as I told this woman who feared her father was being isolated from the rest of the family, early intervention is ideal. And so is a prompt response when the damage is done.

This happened within the last three months of his life. Don’t allow your inheritance to slip away. You, your sister and your father deserve justice.

Full Article & Source:
‘She cleaned him out’: My dying father, who had stage 4 cancer, moved in with his girlfriend. In 3 months, she sold his house and pocketed the money.

Caretaker of Vero Beach woman, 87, arrested on credit card fraud, other charges

by Corey Arwood

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY – The caretaker of a Vero Beach woman went on what police said was a two-week shopping spree with the woman's credit card, leading to the caretaker's arrest on charges of theft, fraud and exploitation of the elderly.

According to Vero Beach police records, from Jan. 30 to Feb. 15, Jennifer Hickling, 47, of Vero Beach, is accused of making 28 purchases at retail and grocery stores including Publix, Sam’s Club, TJ Maxx, Marshalls, Amazon, an antique mall and a boutique dessert shop with the credit card of the 87-year-old for whom she’d worked about a year as caretaker.

Police identified Hickling from video surveillance taken during an alleged $120 purchase at a Walgreens on Feb. 15 at 11 p.m. and used credit purchase history to track the transactions, according to records.

Vero Beach Police Department

Charges totaled $3,127, according to the police warrant for Hickling's arrest.

Hickling was charged with exploitation of an elderly person of less than $10,000, scheme to defraud or organized fraud under $20,000, grand theft and fraudulent use of a credit card.

Detective Greg Matakaetis said the next step in the investigation is looking for other potential victims. He said Hickling refused to talk with police without a lawyer present.

“I don’t know how many other people employed her,” said Matakaetis.

He said he was looking into whether Hickling worked independently or through a healthcare service.

“It’s a continuing investigation,” he said.

State medical licensing records show her registered nursing license was suspended in 2018, while under the name Jennifer Michelle Curry, due to an investigation into charges of prescription painkiller possession and controlled substance theft.

The charges were ultimately dismissed in 2019 by the state after court records show Curry, now Hickling, completed a year of court-ordered rehabilitation.

Full Article & Source:
Caretaker of Vero Beach woman, 87, arrested on credit card fraud, other charges

Friday, April 5, 2024

Public Guardian of Contra Costa County sues K.Y. for establishing a conservatorship under the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act

By Northern California Record

In the Court of Appeal of the State of California, First Appellate District, Division Four, a case was filed on March 20, 2024. The case involves K.Y., the objector and appellant, and the Public Guardian of Contra Costa County, the petitioner and respondent. The court case ID is A166825 and it concerns an appeal from an order granting the petition of the Public Guardian to establish a conservatorship for K.Y. under the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act (LPS Act).

K.Y. contested the jury's finding that she is gravely disabled and challenged the court's order allowing the Public Guardian to make medical decisions on her behalf. She also alleged that the trial court made an error in admitting hearsay statements contained within psychiatric records at trial.

The trial court had appointed the Public Guardian as K.Y.'s conservator on December 9, 2022, after a jury found her to be gravely disabled. This empowered the Public Guardian to make medical decisions on her behalf and placed K.Y. in a board and care facility.

K.Y. is seeking to overturn this decision, arguing that there was insufficient evidence for her classification as gravely disabled and challenging the court's right to allow another party to make medical decisions for her. However, since her one-year conservatorship period has already expired before briefing was complete, her appeal has been dismissed as moot by the court.

Full Article & Source:
Public Guardian of Contra Costa County sues K.Y. for establishing a conservatorship under the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act

Preparations underway for Orlando special election to fill Regina Hill's city commission seat

by Senait Gebregiorgis


Some Orlando voters will soon take their pick in a special election since a city commissioner has been forced to give up her chair. 

Governor Ron DeSantis suspended Regina Hill from serving district five as city commissioner Monday.

Hill is facing criminal charges for allegedly taking advantage of a 96-year-old woman.

Orlando City Council set May 21 as a potential date for the special election.

"Orange County is used to special elections. We just did one for our HD 35, and that was more on the eastern side of the county. So our office is prepared," Glen Gilzean said who is the Orange County Supervisor of Elections.

Gilzean said as soon as the council finalizes a date, his office will have a better count on how many people it will need to staff and how much the election will cost. 

"The city will actually reimburse us back for those funds, but right now, we're in the middle of a negotiation," Gilzean said.

Only voters living in district 5 are eligible to cast a ballot. If they want to vote by mail, they have to send in a request as soon as possible.

"Please go log on and register as quickly as you can for this particular election," Gilzean said. "So then that way they would be able to get that in an ample mail time."

Gilzean said the district has just under 21,000 eligible voters. They will have five polling places.

"I think that community is going to like step up. So, I think there's going to be a high turnout, but we're ready for whatever the turnout is," Gilzean said.

Orlando City Council will hold a special meeting Apr. 8 to finalize a date for the special election.

As soon as the date is set, qualified candidates can file to run.

Full Article & Source:
Preparations underway for Orlando special election to fill Regina Hill's city commission seat 

See Also:
Community members have mixed emotions over arrest of Commissioner Regina Hill

US official spends elderly woman's $100,000 savings on facelift, new home

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

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

Hialeah man accused of stealing $50K from 95-year-old mom in exploitation case

Manuel C. Diaz Hernandez, 72, is facing charges including exploitation of an elderly person in an amount over $50,000, grand theft of a person over 65, organized scheme to defraud and unlawful use of a two-way communications device, the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office said Wednesday 


Manuel C. Diaz Hernandez

A Hialeah man has been arrested after authorities said he exploited his 95-year-old mother out of tens of thousands of dollars, leaving her unable to pay her rent.

Manuel C. Diaz Hernandez, 72, is facing charges including exploitation of an elderly person in an amount over $50,000, grand theft of a person over 65, organized scheme to defraud and unlawful use of a two-way communications device, the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office said Wednesday.

Authorities said the victim had been living alone in her Miami apartment following the death of her 92-year-old husband after 40 years of marriage and had collected more than $57,000 from a settlement related to his death.

The victim had asked her deceased husband's adopted son to help her with the settlement money, and he came to Miami to assist her in opening a bank account.

Meanwhile, Diaz Hernandez, who hadn't had significant contact with his mother until her husband's death, began taking an interest in her and convinced her he was better able to assist her since he was a "blood relative," authorities said.

Diaz Hernandez was added to his mother's bank account, then helped her move $50,000 of the settlement money to a joint account, prosecutors said.

After the money was moved, $7,000 disappeared, and between March and August of 2022, the balance dropped to zero, leaving the elderly mother with no way to pay her rent.

"All the money was gone. And the little bitty fortune that her husband left was basically gone," the victim's stepson, Andres Ramos Jr., told NBC6.

The State Attorney's Office was able to find emergency housing for the woman.

“It is always inconceivably sad when a son, or a daughter, or another family member sees an elderly relative as an exploitable target," State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said in a statement. "Too many of our older residents are vulnerable to exploitation. In this case, our Elder and Vulnerable Adult Unit was able to intervene to keep the victim housed. Today’s arrest is another strong statement by my office and our law enforcement community that we will not tolerate the victimization of our elder and vulnerable residents."

Diaz Hernandez was booked into jail. Attorney information wasn't available.

Full Article & Source:
Hialeah man accused of stealing $50K from 95-year-old mom in exploitation case

Thursday, April 4, 2024

Adults Facing Guardianship Need Adequate Legal Representation, AARP Tells Congress

By Natalie Missakian

AndreyPopov/Getty Images/iStockphoto

En español
| AARP is backing legislation that would help states train and recruit law students to represent adults facing guardianship proceedings in court.

More than 1.3 million adults in the U.S. are living under court-ordered guardianship because they are unable to manage their own affairs. These adults may lose the ability to make decisions about where to live, how to spend their money or how to treat an illness. They may even lose their right to get married or vote.

Because so much is at stake, AARP is endorsing the Guardianship Grant Flexibility Act, sponsored by U.S. Sens. Mike Braun (R-Indiana) and Bob Casey (D-Pennsylvania). The legislation would allow states to use federal grants for programs to train and recruit law students to help these adults, either by providing legal representation or becoming court-appointed guardians ad litem, representing their best interests. The programs would be administered through law clinics supervised by a licensed attorney, according to the bill’s sponsors.

“Unfortunately, many people subject to guardianship proceedings cannot afford to hire attorneys to represent them, and states do not have adequate funding to provide representation,” Bill Sweeney, AARP senior vice president for government affairs, wrote in a letter endorsing the legislation. “These individuals are too often left without a voice in the system, or an advocate to protect their rights.”

Often, guardians are family members or friends, but public guardians are appointed when no one else is willing to serve in the role. While many guardians do their job well, over the years, cases of abuse, mismanagement and conflicts of interest have also made headlines around the country.

That’s why AARP has long called for stronger oversight of these arrangements, and the use of less restrictive alternatives, such as power of attorney agreements, when possible. We’ve successfully pushed to reform state guardianship systems in Virginia, Florida, Alabama and other states.

Full Article & Source:
Adults Facing Guardianship Need Adequate Legal Representation, AARP Tells Congress

Panel: Douglas judge guilty of 'systemic incompetence'

By Randy Travis

A hearing panel recommended Douglas County Probate Court Judge Christina Peterson be removed from office.

- She must go. That’s the unanimous recommendation from a hearing panel investigating Douglas County Probate Judge Christina Peterson.

The first-time judge has also been the subject of several FOX 5 I-Team investigations since she took office in late 2020.

The three-member panel for the Judicial Qualifications Commission decided Peterson is guilty of "systemic incompetence" because she ignored courthouse rules, abused courthouse personnel, made inappropriate posts on social media and, in repeated cases, failed to do her job.

The extraordinary decision to remove Peterson follows four separate hearings starting in September 2023 where Peterson had a chance to testify and confront her accusers. She faced 30 counts of misconduct.

The one that troubled the panel the most involved Peterson's decision to jail a woman for simply trying to amend her marriage certificate to include the real name of her recently discovered father.

PJ Skelton served two days of a 20-day jail sentence for contempt before her husband could pay a $500 fine.

"Such a hasty and shockingly disproportionate reaction is the hallmark of (Peterson’s) intemperance," wrote the panel.

The report criticized Peterson’s attempt at a neighborhood meeting to get her HOA to settle a lawsuit she had filed, even though she knew the HOA was represented by an attorney.

"(Peterson’s) attempts to avoid responsibility for these clear violations bordered on farcical, severely eroding her credibility with the Hearing Panel," wrote panel members.

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office complained Judge Peterson ignored their orders and held a wedding after hours, allowing people inside without deputies present.

She once hit a panic button when a deputy was late escorting her to court, causing needless panic among security.

And the report pointed out when county staff criticized her actions, it "quickly triggers allegations of obstructionism or even racism."

"These communications and actions reveal a judge (Respondent) who publicly vilifies colleagues, is quick to threaten them with unnecessary legal action, and generally projects a spiteful and vainglorious persona."

Peterson’s main defense was her inexperience as a judge, a problem she promised had been addressed through additional training.

But the panel wasn’t buying it.

The report also cited multiple examples of failure to actually do her job which needlessly delayed petitions before her office. The hearing panel said Peterson was guilty of "systemic incompetence… (Judges) are expected to act in a manner that promotes the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary. Respondent has shown that she cannot — or will not — do so. And so she must go."

The Georgia Supreme Court will ultimately decide whether to approve the hearing panel's recommendation. Peterson has 20 business days to file a response and remains on the bench. Her attorney Lester Tate said "we disagree with the recommendation of removal and intend to go to the next level."

Peterson also faces opposition in next month's primary election. And earlier this year, her HOA began garnishing her judicial wages for the $43,446.76 judgment against her.

Full Article & Source:
Panel: Douglas judge guilty of 'systemic incompetence'

Wednesday, April 3, 2024

Utah mental health counselor sent to prison for financially abusing vulnerable mother

By Emily Ashcraft

VERNAL — A mental health counselor has been sentenced to a term of one to 15 years in prison for a second conviction of exploiting a vulnerable adult.

The victim in both cases was his mother. Investigators say he charged her more than $15,000 for mental health services during a weeklong visit.

Mannix George Glines, 50, was ordered last week by the 8th District Court to pay over $60,000 in restitution to his mother to repay the money he took from her.

"Stealing from or abusing anyone vulnerable is abhorrent, but to couple that abuse of trust with the exploitation of a family member is truly reprehensible," the Utah Attorney General's Office said in a statement.

Charges were filed against Glines in November 2022 by the Medicaid Fraud and Patient Abuse Division of the attorney general's office, and he pleaded guilty to one count of financial exploitation, a second-degree felony, on Jan. 3, 2024.

Glines was a signer on his mother's bank accounts from August 2020 to April 2022 and during that time took funds from her account to benefit himself or others, charging documents state.

In an earlier case, Glines charged his mother $15,360 for his services as a licensed clinical social worker while he went to visit her in Arizona, shortly after doctors determined she was not able to make her own medical decisions in early 2020, the charges state.

He charged her $120 per hour at 16 hours per day for eight days he spent with her over two trips, charging documents say, adding that he also took money from her for travel expenses.

The charges filed in June 2021 also say Glines' mother agreed to help pay for a home for Glines, based on his representations to her that she would be living in the home while he cared for her.

She lived in the home from May to July in 2020, before Glines returned her to a facility she had been unhappy with after telling her he was undergoing surgery. Later, she learned there was no surgery and that she would be back at the facility indefinitely, charging documents state.

At that point, prosecutors said he had reimbursed himself more than he had paid from her accounts and had taken money that was not accounted for from her.

In the previous case, Glines pleaded guilty on Dec. 21, 2021, to one count of financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult, a second-degree felony, as part of a plea deal that dismissed one other count for financial exploitation and a charge of unlawful dealing with property by a fiduciary, second-degree felonies.

Glines was ordered in June 2022 to pay $165,336 to his mother in that case. He was also sentenced to one to 15 years in prison, but that sentence was suspended in favor of 36 months of probation.

Full Article & Source:
Utah mental health counselor sent to prison for financially abusing vulnerable mother

Know your rights: Caregivers and nursing home debt

Helping someone you love to move into a nursing home can be stressful enough. Nursing homes should not try to make you personally responsible for a loved one’s bill as a condition of admission.

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 Take a close look at the nursing home contract

Here’s what you should know about your rights, what to look for in the nursing home admissions contract, and where to get help.

  • Know your rights. Some nursing home admissions contracts say that a caregiver, family member, or friend must pay the resident’s bill if the resident can’t afford to. This is generally illegal. Under the federal Nursing Home Reform Act, nursing homes can’t ask or require you to use your own money to pay for someone else’s nursing home bill, as a condition of that person’s admission to or continued stay in the nursing home.
  • The nursing home can’t make you promise to pay for the resident’s care with your own money. For instance, you may have access to the resident’s money as their power of attorney or legal guardian. But the nursing home can’t make you promise to pay for the resident’s care with your own money.
  • Watch out for words such as “responsible party” and “joint and several liability.” Sometimes, contracts have confusing terms that say, on one hand, that you are not personally responsible for paying the resident’s costs of care. Then later, the contract could say that if you don’t make sure the resident’s Medicaid application is complete, accurate, and on time, you are responsible for paying the nursing home’s damages. Or it could say that you and the resident are both “jointly and severally” responsible for the nursing home bills.
  • You can refuse to sign a nursing home admissions contract that tries to hold you personally responsible for the resident’s bills.  If the nursing home insists that you sign the contract, you can ask a lawyer to read the admissions contract for violations of the Nursing Home Reform Act. You can also report NHRA violations to your State Nursing Home Survey agency.

Defend your rights, talk with a lawyer

When nursing home bills go unpaid, some nursing homes hire debt collectors, including law firms, to demand that caregivers pay for a resident’s unpaid nursing home bills. They may also report the debt to consumer credit reporting companies as your debt, and file lawsuits in court. Debt collectors may even tell the judge that you intentionally misused, hid, or stole the resident’s funds, without any reason for believing that you did. These actions could violate the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

If you are sued for a loved one’s nursing home debt, contact an attorney immediately.

Help is available

When you’re dealing with a nursing home problem, you don’t have to go it alone. There are experts who can help. Some do this for free or at a low cost.

Find your local long-term care ombudsman

Long-term care ombudsmen help residents and their caregivers resolve nursing home issues. Use this tool to find your local ombudsman  

Get legal help

Lawyers can help you understand your rights, negotiate with a nursing home, and respond to debt collection demands. You may qualify for free legal aid, based on your income.

Contact your local bar association or legal aid.

Report nursing homes

Help federal and state authorities stop illegal nursing home debt collection. You can report Nursing Home Reform Act violations to your State Nursing Home Survey Agency or file a complaint with your State Attorney General  

Submit a complaint

If you are having trouble with a debt collector or a credit reporting company, you can also submit a complaint with the CFPB.

Full Article & Source:
Know your rights: Caregivers and nursing home debt

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Community members have mixed emotions over arrest of Commissioner Regina Hill

By Phylicia Ashley

ORLANDO, Fla. — Some of the people in District 5 are shocked that the same commissioner who launched weekly workouts to improve their health and advocated for affordable housing, employment, and development was arrested for exploiting and defrauding one of her elderly constituents.

“She helped me get housing and back on my feet,” said Michael Bennett. “I don’t know why she thinks she should have done anything like that.”

Nick Smith has known the alleged victim since childhood.

“A crime of this magnitude can’t be orchestrated with just one person,” Smith said. “It’s more going on here.”

All these people are learning today that Commissioner Regina Hill was arrested after being indicted on charges of fraudulently obtaining power of attorney over a 96-year-old woman.

“This does have an impact already,” Smith said. “Because as of right now, we have no representation for our district. There are things just going on right now that we need to have clarification on some projects that are going on that’s near us that’s around us in her district.”

The community’s main concern.

“To know that type of crime happened in my neighborhood where we try to protect our elderly neighbor,” Smith said. “It’s very upsetting.”

Others are concerned for Commissioner Hill.

“I hope she can get through and I hope to just get back in,” Bennett said. “She can come back positive like she helped me to do.”

Full Article & Source:
Community members have mixed emotions over arrest of Commissioner Regina Hill

See Also:
US official spends elderly woman's $100,000 savings on facelift, new home

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

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


Disturbing video shows caretaker allegedly abusing woman at assisted living facility

New video shows a South Miami caretaker allegedly abusing an elderly woman at an assisted living facility in an incident that led to the caretaker's arrest. 

Josephine Gurri, 77, who is the owner of the assisted living facility Good Family Home, was arrested Tuesday on a charge of physical abuse of an elderly or disabled adult, records showed.

Disturbing video shows caretaker allegedly abusing woman at assisted living facility

Caretaker arrested for identity theft of elderly people, including her patients

by: Jordan Baker

(KRON) — A caretaker was arrested for identity thefts of multiple elderly people including residents at the facility where she was employed, according to the Santa Rosa Police Department. 

A representative for an 82-year-old Santa Rosa care facility resident noticed multiple unauthorized online transactions of over $15,000 on the elderly man’s account in Nov. 2023. According to police, it would be impossible for the man to make the purchases due to his physical state. The representative and the victim were unaware of who conducted the purchases, police said. 

SRPD Property Crimes Investigations Team detectives served investigative search warrants to credit card companies, commercial businesses, online and electronic service providers, and online marketplaces. Detectives determined the suspect was responsible for over $19,000 in unauthorized credit card charges using the victim’s accounts. Detectives identified 32-year-old Santa Rosa resident Imelda Ruby Reyes-Medina from shipping and contact information linked to multiple transactions. Reyes-Medina was not a caretaker at the facility. 

Detectives executed search warrants for the two residences associated with Reyes-Medina in March.

  • 2700 block of Mohawk Street
  • 1000 block of Bellevue Road 

Officers located items Reyes-Medina purchased using the victim’s credit cards, including high-end electronics, baby accessories, jewelry, furniture, and other household items.

In the search of Reyes-Medina’s property, detectives located personal identifying information and credit cards for two individuals not residing with Reyes-Medina. The individuals’ information belonged to residents of a Santa Rosa residential care facility where Reyes-Medina was employed. 

Reyes-Medina was located at the Mohawk Street residence. Reyes-Medina was arrested and booked into Sonoma County Jail for the following charges:

1st case:

  • Identity Theft
  • Theft by Use of a Credit Card
  • Grand Theft by Access Cards
  • Financial Elder Abuse
  • Commit a Felony While on Bail

2nd case:              

  • Identity Theft (2 Counts)
  • Commit a Felony While on Bail
  • Grand Theft by Access Cards
  • Financial Elder Abuse

The investigations are active and ongoing.

 According to police, Reyes-Medina was free on bail from a previous investigation involving charges of identity theft from an elder/dependent adult by a caretaker for a Sebastopol case. 

Full Article & Source:
Caretaker arrested for identity theft of elderly people, including her patients

Monday, April 1, 2024

US official spends elderly woman's $100,000 savings on facelift, new home

Story by India Today World Desk

An official in the US state of Florida has been arrested for defrauding a 96-year-old woman of her savings worth more than USD100,000 and spending the money on personal expenses, including a facelift, hotel stays, rental cars, and expensive perfumes from high-end retailers. Authorities said the accused fraudulently used the woman's power of attorney to buy a home in the latter's name.

The accused, Orlando City Commissioner Regina Hill, was arrested on Thursday. She faces a total of seven, including three counts of exploitation of the elderly, mortgage fraud, scheme to defraud; and two counts of fraud, the Florida-based local WESH (channel 2) TV station reported.

The 59-year-old who was first elected in 2013, has pleaded not guilty and posted USD40,000 bond following her arrest. She could face 180 years in prison if convicted on all counts.

Hill, a Democrat, is also accused of racking up over USD10,000 in debt under the elderly woman's name.

According to the Orlando Sentinel newspaper, the matter came to light earlier this month after a judge issued an injunction which barred Hill from accessing the elderly woman's bank accounts and homes, which the accused took control of.

She first met the woman in 2021.

According to authorities, Hill took advantage of the woman as she suffers from cognitive disabilities, age-related health issues, as well as her mental condition, which is already an issue in the civil case.

Florida Department of Law Enforcement Special Agent in Charge John Vecchio told reporters that "Hill learnt of the woman living in poor conditions and the two were connected".

She "became aware of this resident through her position as a city commissioner, and because of that, was able to lend what appeared to be benefit services" but used her influence over the elderly woman to "fraudulently obtain a power of attorney", WESH 2 quoted Vecchio as saying.

According to law enforcement officers, the accused "repeatedly used the victim's finances to purchase rental cars, hotel stays, personal luxury items like expensive perfume from high-end retailers".

However, Hill, in a statement to the television station, called the matter "unfortunate" and said she "loved and cared" for the elderly woman "like my own family".

"After 10 years of service for the City of Orlando, I've illustrated my love and compassion for my constituents, my city and my family. I know the truth, I know I'm entitled to due process in which I trust, and I will await my day in court to prove my innocence," she added.

A hearing has been scheduled for April 5.

Meanwhile, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has hinted that he would suspend Hill if she was indicted.

"This is a target-rich environment, this state, for exploitation, because you have a lot of seniors, and you have a lot of seniors who are retired and have some income... If a municipal elected official is indicted by a grand jury, then I would suspend. That's typical," WESH 2 quoted the governor as saying.

Full Article & Source:
US official spends elderly woman's $100,000 savings on facelift, new home

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

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

Waterloo couple charged with dependent adult abuse in guardianship of relative

by Jeff Reinitz

WATERLOO — A Waterloo couple has been arrested after a relative was found living with untreated bedsores and other ailments in January.

Police arrested Jerry Lee Richards-Trask, 51, and Sunshine Marie Trask, 40, on Thursday for charges of intentional dependent adult abuse, a felony. They were later released pending trial.

Court records indicate Richards-Trask’s 66-year-old sister was found with bed sores that went almost to the bone.

“Per medical providers treating (her), her condition resulted from sitting in a chair or lying in a bed for months without access to repositioning, adequate hygiene, or regular medical care,” court records state.

The woman had been diagnosed with mental illness as a child and had been cared for by her mother. The mother passed away nine years ago, and Richards-Trask took over the court-ordered guardianship in 2015 and oversaw her daily activities, records state.

During a June 2023 medical visit, doctors expressed concern about the condition of the woman’s skin and suggested moving her to a higher level of care. But no follow-up visits were scheduled.

Then on Jan. 11, 2024, paramedics were called to their home at 639 Wallgate Ave. and found the woman on the floor covered in urine and feces, records state. She was taken to MercyOne Waterloo Medical Center for treatment where doctors noticed the bed sores and found she was suffering from COVID-19 and sepsis.

She was placed on a respirator and later moved to a Des Moines hospital.

The Iowa Department of Health and Human Services sought an emergency order to treat the woman in March while measures were taken to find an alternate guardian, court records state.

Full Article & Source:
Waterloo couple charged with dependent adult abuse in guardianship of relative

Sunday, March 31, 2024

Happy Easter

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Lincoln City police dog helps locate missing elderly couple in crashed car

LINCOLN CITY, Ore. — An elderly man and woman were safely rescued with the help of K-9 Officer Nix after driving off an embankment on Highway 20 and getting trapped overnight, says the Lincoln City Police

On Wednesday Lincoln City Police K-9 Officer Nix and her handler, Officer Snidow, were sent to Mile Marker 17 on Highway 20 around 2:30 p.m. to help locate a missing driver.

Police say the driver, an 81-year-old man, had driven off the embankment of Highway 20 the night prior. The crash was not discovered until 2 p.m. the next day by a passerby.

When Officer Snidow and K-9 Nix arrived, they began searching the area. K-9 Nix quickly located the driver, who had walked away after the crash, around 100 yards from his car and stuck in an area of dense blackberries. Police say the driver had apparently had a medical episode, and he was taken to a Newport hospital

Officers Snidow and Nix found an elderly female passenger inside the crashed car who was suffering from a head injury. She was rescued and also taken to the same hospital.

"This incident highlights the importance of the Police K-9 program available in Lincoln City," the department said in a press release. "As there were no other K-9 units available in the county, Lincoln City Police Officer Snidow and K-9 Nix were instrumental in locating the driver and ensuring he received medical care. The Lincoln City Police Department is grateful for the community support that allows us to run this beneficial program."

Full Article & Source:
Lincoln City police dog helps locate missing elderly couple in crashed car

Hero the dog lives up to his name and leads rescuers to owner who spent 2 days in a ditch

by Omar Sherif

Hero, an Akita breed dog, led emergency crews to his owner after the man had fallen into a ditch near Taber, Alta. (Lost Paws Society, Taber Police Service)

A 61-year-old man in the southern Alberta town of Taber trapped in a muddy ditch for two days could have been there a lot longer if it wasn't for his dog — an Akita named Hero.

Police believe the man got stuck in mud while walking in the area, a location he frequents often with his two dogs: Hero and Tora. He was unable to move, and the location was out of clear sight from the road.

Then, on Thursday morning, police received a call about a large dog on the loose just north of the sugar refinery in Taber — a town about 270 kilometres southeast of Calgary.

When officers arrived, they couldn't locate the dog, Const. Austin Weersink with the Taber Police Service told CBC News.

Dog attack leads to rescue

A few hours later, police received another call regarding the same area. This time, a man named Curtis Dahl told police he was with his dog when they were attacked by another large dog.

The dog who was responsible for the attack was Hero, Taber police said in a post to Facebook. When police arrived on scene again they saw Hero laying on a berm and whistled to get his attention.

Weersink says that's when he heard a loud cry for help.

"I looked to my left where the individual who had been attacked was sitting in his vehicle, but his window was [rolled] up," he said. "So I whistled again, and the shriek came again and said, 'Help, I'm down here.'"

Weersink called for Hero to be taken under control, then walked over to where he heard the scream coming from to find the man lying on his back.

"The tall grass ... it's extremely tough to see someone in there," said the police officer.

'He really truly lives up to his name'

Police say Hero's owner was able to tell them that his loyal companion stayed by his side and kept him warm as temperatures dropped, and may have even fought off coyotes.

The man was rescued and taken to the Chinook Regional Hospital in the nearby city of Lethbridge, Alta.

Emergency crews in Taber rescued a man who'd been in a ditch unable to move for two days.
Emergency crews in Taber, Alta., rescued the 61-year-old dog owner that was reportedly 'lodged in mud up to his hips' after police received reports of a dog attack in the area. (Submitted by Steve Swarbrick)

His dogs, Hero and another Akita named Tora, were taken in by the Taber's Lost Paws Society while he recovered.

"[Hero] was obviously quite anxious, confused, but quite calm actually," said Alana McPhee with the Lost Paws Society.

"He was involved in fighting because he was really just protecting his owner … I guess you could say he really truly lives up to his name."

Dog attack victim recovering

Dahl, the man whom Hero bit, told CBC News he went to the hospital for his injuries and his dog, Jack, was also treated.

Both are now recovering, but Dahl says he was understanding of the situation after hearing the full story.

"I think [Hero] thought my dog was a threat," he said. "But once I thought about it, I knew why this dog did what he did."

The Lost Paws Society has since launched a fundraising campaign for all of the pets involved that sustained injuries, as Tora also had a rod in a previously broken leg that had some screws come loose from likely "frantically running between the place her owner was trapped and her residence."

McPhee says she can tell both dogs are looking forward to being reunited with their owner. 

Full Article & Source:
Hero the dog lives up to his name and leads rescuers to owner who spent 2 days in a ditch

Dog adopted from Westside Shelter in Albuquerque saves owner's life one day after adoption

Heel, Lassie. There’s a new courageous canine in town.

Meet Peanut, a black and white pup recently adopted from Albuquerque’s Westside shelter. The day after he was adopted, Peanut’s new owner, Andrew Budek-Schmeisser, said the dog saved his life.

Budek-Schmeisser, who suffers from frequent falls, wanted to adopt a bigger dog to help him balance and keep him mobile. But little did he know how perfectly Peanut would fit the role — until Budek-Schmeisser fell outside his house in Belen while his wife was at church.

“I was in trouble,” Budek-Schmeisser said. “I hit my head and my windpipe was occluded.”

Because of his head position, Budek-Schmeisser started choking and began to slip out of consciousness. The world was starting to fade from gray to black, he said.

But then he felt Peanut. The pup worked his way behind Budek-Schmeisser until he could lean on his furry friend. Peanut wiggled under his arm so Budek-Schmeisser could sit up. That’s when another of the couple’s dogs made its way over and helped “lever” him to his feet.

Peanut’s heroism hasn’t gone to his head, though. Although Budek-Schmeisser said he fits in “beautifully” with the family’s other dogs, Peanut is still terrorized by their 8-pound senior dog with a broken back.

The white-socked dog can be chatty — with a voice like Scooby Doo, Budek-Schmeisser said. But it’s his personality, intelligence and “strength of character” that make Peanut so lovable.

“We live in a world where there is a lot of bad news, there’s a lot of anger and there’s a lot of hate,” Budek-Schmeisser said. “It’s through the hearts of these creatures that we can see love writ large.”

Full Article & Source:
Dog adopted from Westside Shelter in Albuquerque saves owner's life one day after adoption