Saturday, April 20, 2024

Wendy Williams’ Legal Guardian Asks Courts To Force Kevin Hunter to Repay Overpaid Spousal Support In Bombshell Filing Accusing Him Of Pocketing An Extra $112K

By Angelina Velasquez

Kevin Hunter’s legal battle to secure financial stability at his ex-wife Wendy Williams‘ expense has grown more complicated.

Hunter has been pursuing two years of alimony after claiming his last payment of $37,000 was received in January 2022. His ex has been under a court-ordered conservatorship, allowing legal guardian Sabrina Morrissey to oversee her finances and medical care since May 2022.

Wendy Williams’ legal guardian accuses host’s ex-husband, Kevin Hunter, of pocketing an extra $112,000 in spousal support amid his legal battle seeking two years of marital severance pay. Photos: Thewendyexperiencepodcast/Instagram; Therealkelvinhunter/Instagram

Hunter filed a petition to receive severance payments per his and Williams’ divorce settlement agreement earlier this year, where he also demanded access to his ex’s financial records.  

“This is an emergent matter because I rely on the severance pay for my living expenses, and having been without this income for twenty-three months has affected me greatly,” he wrote in the court order. A judge denied him access to her bank statements in March.

Morrissey recently filed documents alleging that the former “Wendy Williams Show” executive producer received six figures worth of unwarranted payments. She argues that the settlement stipulated that his support would be reduced if Williams’ income fell below an unspecified threshold, something she noted that took place when the entertainment veteran departed her show in 2021.

In February, public banter about the former New York radio host’s money woes and general well-being resumed when it was revealed that she was diagnosed with the neurodegenerative disease frontotemporal dementia and aphasia. The health issue impacts cognitive functions, leading to communication challenges and personality shifts.

“She continued to pay Mr. Hunter. He says in his motion papers… that he was paid through January of 2022… As a result, [Kevin] has been unjustly enriched by the receipt of $112,500 ($37,500 x 3 months) belonging to [Wendy],” said Morrissey, The U.S. Sun reported this week.

The guardian is asking the courts to order Hunter to return the payments and that a gag order be issued to prohibit him from speaking on the legal matter. In addition, she wants their financial circumstances to re-enter arbitration, which, if approved, would dismiss his recent petition.

The celebrity gossip aficionado and Hunter were married for 22 years when she filed for divorce amid rampant reports of his cheating and him impregnating his then-mistress, Sharina Hudson.

The failed union yielded them one child, son Kevin Hunter Jr. Prior to their divorce being finalized in January 2020, they settled on an interim agreement that reportedly included Williams paying $250,000 so that Hunter could secure a new living arrangements for himself, Hudson, and their daughter.

Around the time her medical hurdles were revealed, Lifetime premiered the controversial two-part documentary “Where Is Wendy Williams?” It shed some insight on the past two years of health and personal turmoil the former daytime talkshow host has endured.

A purported source claimed Hunter deemed the project as exploitative and that he advised their son not to participate. Kevin Jr., Williams’ sister Wanda, a niece, nephew, Blac Chyna, and business associates are present in the production.

Full Article & Source:
Wendy Williams’ Legal Guardian Asks Courts To Force Kevin Hunter to Repay Overpaid Spousal Support In Bombshell Filing Accusing Him Of Pocketing An Extra $112K

See Also:
Wendy Williams’ ex-husband seeks two years of unpaid spousal support

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

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

Wendy Williams’ guardianship case highlights the need for reforms

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

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

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

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

Wendy Williams top 5 documentary bombshells

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

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

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

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


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

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

Wendy Williams’ Ex Sells House Amid Big Money Troubles

Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson Unable to Remember Children’s Names, ‘Mostly Difficult to Understand,’ Lawyer Reveals Ahead of Conservatorship Hearing

By:Ryan Naumann

Beach Boys’ singer Brian Wilson was “confused” when asked about his family’s plan to place him under a conservatorship due to his dementia —but his court-appointed lawyer believed the move would be the best for the entertainer after a recent meeting.

According to court documents obtained by, the lawyer appointed by the court to speak to Wilson about the proposed conservatorship recently met with the singer.

The lawyer said he met with Wilson on April 15 at his “impeccably well-maintained residence in Beverly Hills, California, where he resides with 2 of his children, a long-term live-in caregiver, as well as other caregivers that assist him with his daily activities.”

He added, [Wilson] uses a walker to get around, but only with the help of one of his caretakers who steadies him and helps him get into and out of the walker.”

The lawyer said Wilson was “well oriented as to person, place and time, acknowledging and responding to his name, providing me with his date of birth, the time of day, and the current date, but was unable to give me the names of his children other than the names of the two daughters who live with him.” Wilson has 7 children.  

The report said Wilson was “mostly difficult to understand and gave very short responses to questions and comments. He said that he was not expecting my visit and when told that the court had appointed me to represent him in the court proceedings concerning the appointment of co-conservators of his person, he was confused as to the need for co-conservators, but confirmed that the petitioners have worked with him for years and clearly acknowledged they were his long time managers who he placed his trust in, and further said he would truth them to act in his best interests.” 

Wilson told the court he had relied on his wife before her recent death. The lawyer said, “Wilson said that he votes and wants to continue to do so”

The court-appointed lawyer said he recommended approving the conservatorship. 

As we first previously, Wilson’s longtime manager LeeAnn Hard asked to be appointed conservator with his family’s blessing. The family said “This decision was made to ensure that there will be no extreme changes to the household and Brian and the children living at home will be taken care of and remain in the home where they are cared for by Gloria Ramos and the wonderful team at the house who have been in place for many years helping take care of the family.”

“Brian will be able to enjoy all of his family and friends and continue to work on current projects as well as participate in any activities he chooses,” the family added.

A hearing on the petition is set for later this month.

Full Article & Source:
Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson Unable to Remember Children’s Names, ‘Mostly Difficult to Understand,’ Lawyer Reveals Ahead of Conservatorship Hearing

Nursing home employee charged with financial exploitation of elderly at Alabaster facility

by  Lynne Keenum

A Shelby County woman accused of stealing money from a 75-year-old resident at an Alabaster nursing home is out of jail on bond.

Louise Smith Bradley, 63, of Chelsea, was arrested Friday and charged with financial exploitation of the elderly, according to Alabaster police.

The victim's family reported some discrepancies in financial records and some concerns regarding staff at the Healthcare Center at Buck Creek, where the victim lives.

Bradley was employed by the facility at the time of the investigation. Police said they found evidence of theft.

Court documents show she is accused of stealing $16,705.35 from the victim.

"No matter your situation or financial needs, it's pretty despicable to steal from those who depend on you for their health and well-being," Alabaster Police Chief Curtis Rigney said.

Bradley is out of jail on a $30,000 bond with a court hearing set for May 29.

The status of Bradley's employment at the Healthcare Center at Buck Creek is unknown. A person answering the phone at the facility said there would be no comment.

Full Article & Source:
Nursing home employee charged with financial exploitation of elderly at Alabaster facility

Friday, April 19, 2024

Family fight over money lands Florida woman under state court control

Guardian uses multi-million dollar estate to sue ward's child

By: Adam Walser

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Our ongoing series “The Price of Protection” has exposed problems with Florida’s court-appointed guardianship system for more than a decade.

Professional guardianship is supposed to protect vulnerable seniors from isolation, neglect, exploitation and abuse.

A judge can appoint a stranger to make life and financial decisions for those people who have been declared incapacitated. 

Here in Florida, a person is alleged to be incapacitated after an evaluation by a panel of three healthcare professionals, including one physician.

“Things are getting worse and worse”

88-year-old Marie Lang was declared incapacitated in 2018 and appointed a professional guardian.

At that time, she lost most of her rights.

Marie Lang

Marie has called the I-Team multiple times, complaining about being under guardianship.

“Adam, this is Marie Lang in St. Peterburg,” she said in one voicemail message. “I need some help fast, please. I don’t know what to do, and things are getting worse and worse. I just don’t know what to do anymore!”

The call was made to an unlisted cell phone.

We met Marie outside her senior care facility in early April.

“I'm not going to live much longer, and I don’t want to live like this,” Marie said. “I think I should be free to do what I want, go where I want with who I want.”

Lang retained her right to vote and to make decisions about her social environment and other social aspects of her life when she was declared incapacitated.

She lost other rights, including the rights to consent to medical treatment, to determine residence, to marry, to apply for government benefits, to travel, to have a driver’s license, to seek and retain employment, to contract, to sue and defend lawsuits, to seek and retain employment, to manage property and income and to make any gift or disposition of property.

“It's terrible that I can’t go out with my son. I have to ask permission. That's not right. He's my family. He's the only one I have here,” Lang said.

Family trust at center of dispute

Kurt Lang cared for his mother after her husband died in 2006.

Kurt and Marie Lang

He’s one of five children but the only one in Florida.

His sister Kim Silver, who lives in Michigan, said Kurt has been devoted to his mom.

She said he played a major role in helping her with her day-to-day life before she was appointed a professional guardian.

“Basically, to help her pay bills, to take her to appointments, to go walk the dog,” Silver said.

“I would have to hire three or four people to do that, and he did everything,” Marie said.

Kurt began managing Marie's trust in 2012 after she had a stroke.

Kurt and Marie Lang

Marie designated him as her pre-need guardian and power of attorney in 2016.

The next year Kurt petitioned for guardianship, alleging in the petition that his out-of-state brothers attempted to “unduly influence her” by repeatedly asking Marie for money.

“They just wanted everything right away. And I said I'm sorry, but it doesn’t work that way,” Marie said.

Kurt’s brothers filed a counter-petition, accusing Kurt of tricking his mother into deeding her condo to Kurt.

In that petition, the brothers requested a professional guardian, which a judge approved.

Court order shows rights taken from Marie Lang in 2018

“They didn’t want him around me because they thought he was influencing me, but he doesn’t. He’s just doing what his father told him to do,” Marie said.

The 2006 Marie Lang Living Trust said, “Our real estate in Florida shall pass to our son Kurt W. Lang outright.”

“I was on the deed for my mom’s condo, alright. And they were jealous of that,” Kurt said.

Marie’s money funds lawsuit against her son

Marie’s guardian sued Kurt months later over the deed transfer and allegations that Kurt diverted $1.5 million from her accounts.

“It's all false. It was a jealousy that Kurt was there. That Kurt was taking care of my mother,” Silver said.

Statement of kurt lang.jpg
Letter Kurt Lang wrote to Governor DeSantis about issues with guardianship in Florida.

Kurt said the money was used to pay his mother’s bills, and his attorney responded that Marie had knowledge of and consented to those transactions.

Marie’s guardian filed the lawsuit on behalf of Marie, and her money was used to fund the suit against her son.

“I even had to pay her lawyers to do it,” Marie said.

Kurt said mounting legal bills forced him to settle.

“In order for them to stop the lawsuit, I had to sign off on the deed for the condo, and she sold it,” Kurt said.

The condo sold for $565,000 and Kurt received $150,000 in the settlement.

IRA transferred to new beneficiaries after incompetency evaluation

Kurt later learned his mother’s individual retirement account, worth about $1 million, was mysteriously moved to another state, and the beneficiary had been changed.

“I'm very curious to know why I was taken off as a beneficiary on an account,” Kurt said.

He said the account was moved to another bank, and the beneficiaries were changed after doctors had evaluated Marie and determined her to be incapacitated but before a judge appointed a professional guardian.

Marie denies signing anything to change her IRA in early 2018.

“It's up in Connecticut. I said what’s it doing up there? That's where my son lives,” Marie said.

She said that son was not originally a beneficiary upon her death.

“None of them were. Only Kurt,” she said.

Kurt sued his brothers in 2022, claiming in the complaint, “They conspired to deceive, coerce, exert undue influence or otherwise fraudulently convince Marie Lang to remove Kurt as sole beneficiary and substitute the Defendants.”

A judge dismissed the lawsuit, saying the claims can’t be brought until Marie’s death.

Florida Second District Court of Appeals
Florida Second District Court of Appeals heard appeal of lower court's ruling that dispute over IRA beneficiary designation could not be resolved until Lang's death

Marie said she never testified about signing the document to transfer the account.

Kurt’s attorney appealed, asking for Marie to be deposed in the case.

“Don’t we all want to know what went on Feb. 18, 2018? When all of the sudden the beneficiaries were changed from my client singularly to the three defendants?” attorney Robert Heyman said in a hearing.

After months of consideration, the judges denied the appeal.

Marie and daughter complain about guardian’s spending

Marie and Silver filed complaints with state and local agencies, including the Florida Office of Public and Professional Guardians and the Pinellas County Inspector General.

Among their complaints is that Marie’s money is wasted on hiring private nurses who they say aren’t needed at her full-care senior living facility.

“They told me they had to write down anybody that came, who they were, how long they stayed and what we talked about,” Marie said.

Judge warns family

Pinellas County Probate Judge Pamela Campbell, who is currently assigned to Marie's case, appointed a court monitor.

A recent investigation by the court monitor found no wrongdoing by the guardian.

In an order, Judge Campbell wrote, “The Court has repeatedly warned the family not to discuss their drama and negative suspicions with their mother.”

Order from Judge Pamela Campbell
Order from Judge Pamela Campbell warning family not to discuss disagreements with Marie Lang

She warned in the order, “These visits and telephone calls may need to truly be monitored, or restricted.”

Marie said she’s told her guardian how she feels about the situation.

She said her guardian told her, “That's just the way it is.”

We’re not naming Marie’s guardian because multiple investigations have not uncovered evidence of wrongdoing.

Full Article & Source:
Family fight over money lands Florida woman under state court control

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Cher’s Son Argues She’s ‘Unfit to Serve’ as His Conservator


Elijah Blue Allman, Cher’s son, objected to his mother’s efforts to place him under a conservatorship, arguing that he doesn’t need one and that Cher is “unfit to serve” as his conservator.

Allman filed the objection last week, rebuffing his mother’s arguments that she should gain control of his finances because of his struggles with mental health and substance abuse issues. Allman also objected on the grounds that, if he needed a conservatorship, Cher does not have priority since Allman was still married. 

In arguing against the conservatorship, Allman said he’d been working to get his finances in order and was “capable of managing” his own financial resources, as well as “resisting fraud and undue influences.” (Allman receives quarterly payments from a trust set up by his late father, Gregg Allman.) He went on to acknowledge his struggles with addiction in the past but resisted the claims that he is mentally ill, saying there’s no evidence to uphold those claims made in Cher’s petition.  

“I know that my mother’s actions are meant to help me, but I do not need this help,” Allman argued. “My mother seems to believe that controlling these quarterly trust distributions will prevent me from engaging in self-destructive behaviors. She is misguided. In the event that I am inclined to engage in self-destructive behaviors, I do not need my trust distributions to do so: The world is full of addicts and mentally ill persons who do not have a trust distribution from which to draw. The only person who can save me from my demons is me — and I’m doing just that.” 

Allman also argued pointedly that he believed Cher was “unfit” to even serve as his conservator. In describing their “strained relationship,” Allman recalled an incident last October where Cher allegedly arranged for him to be brought to Mexico for what he was told was “holistic alternative therapy.”

But upon arriving, Allman said, “I was told I was not there for holistic/alternative treatment and, in fact, was not permitted to leave.” His wife, Allman said, had to hire a lawyer, who “negotiated my release from the facility in Mexico. (Cher was previously accused of hiring four men to abduct Allman in 2022 in an effort to stop him from reconciling with his then-estranged wife. Cher has denied the claim.) 

Allman further argued that Cher “does not manage her own finances” and expressed “grave concerns about this court permitting her to manage” his. He said his mother’s personal assistant handled her “private and public affairs” and worried that any responsibility over his finances would be delegated to the personal assistant or others “with whom I have negative associations.”

Lastly, Allman cited his mother’s age and own struggles with mental health in the past: “My mother is seventy-seven years old and will be seventy-eight when this matter is heard. I have seen her suffer with depression in the past, and I do not believe that she is capable of making appropriate decisions for my estate.” 

A lawyer for Cher did not immediately return Rolling Stone‘s request for comment. 

Cher filed her petition back in December 2023, asking a Los Angeles court to make her the sole conservator of her son’s estate as he is “substantially unable to manage his financial resources.” But Cher’s initial efforts fell short: First, Judge Jessica Uzcategui denied her emergency bid, saying Allman deserved more time to review his mom’s claims. Then a few weeks later, a temporary conservatorship was denied after Uzcategui said there was not enough evidence to show Allman lacked the capacity to manage his own affairs. 

Cher scored a minor victory in early March when Uzcategui denied to dismiss the conservatorship bid, giving the musician three months to gather medical records and pursue a private settlement. Allman’s official objection comes ahead of the next hearing in the case, scheduled for June 11.

Full Article & Source:
Cher’s Son Argues She’s ‘Unfit to Serve’ as His Conservator

See Also:
Cher dealt another blow in her request for temporary conservatorship over her son

Look, I Don't Need Conservatorship ... Plenty Reasons Why!!!

Cher Files for Conservatorship of Son Elijah Blue Allman

Elijah Blue Allman Contests Cher's Request for Conservatorship

Cher's Son Elijah Blue Allman Looks Clean-cut in First Sighting Since Conservatorship Victory

Home health care worker stole elderly Miami-Dade client's condo: Prosecutors

Dahamara Cuervo Alonso, 48, was arrested Tuesday on charges of grand theft over $100,000, exploitation of elderly and organized scheme to defraud over $50,000

A home health care worker was arrested after prosecutors said she exploited an elderly client, transferring ownership of the Miami-Dade condo where the 86-year-old woman lives with her disabled son.

Dahamara Cuervo Alonso, 48, was arrested Tuesday on charges of grand theft over $100,000, exploitation of elderly and organized scheme to defraud over $50,000.

Miami-Dade Corrections
Dahamara Cuervo Alonso

According to the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office, Cuervo Alonso was brought in as a home health care aide to assist the two victims, including the mother who suffers from advanced cognitive issues and her 51-year-old disabled son who suffers with a number of medical and physical issues which substantially limit his mobility.

Cuervo Alonso would routinely request the clients to sign documents to verify the hours she worked, which is a common practice in the home health care industry.

The documents were always in English but the only language the mother and son could read or speak was Spanish.

The son said Cuervo Alonso told him and his mother to sign the documents so that she could "get paid" for her services, but neither one read the documents, prosecutors said.

In August of 2023, the son said he saw a YouTube video of a story about a fraudulent quit claim deed completed on a property without the knowledge of the property owner.

After seeing the video, he looked up the condo's property information online and discovered that it was now in Cuervo Alonso’s name, prosecutors said.

He notified authorities who found the fraudulent quit claim deed that was prepared by Cuervo Alonso and was written in English.

Investigators said Cuervo Alonso had been assigned to the victims for less than a year and had no relationship with them besides the health care services she provided.

"Cuervo Alonso took advantage of her position as victim’s trusted caregiver to unlawfully trick the victims into signing a document which they did not understand," the state attorney's office said in a news release.

Cuervo Alonso, of Miami Gardens, was arrested by the state attorney's office Elderly and Vulnerable Adult Unit.

"This fraudulent property transfer of an 86-year-old woman’s condo was not just the theft of her home, but also the theft of the home of her 51-year-old disabled son who resided with her," Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said in a statement. "It is a sad comment when owning your home, free and clear, does not provide for your future financial security but instead makes you a target for an alleged thief. Cases like this are the reason my Elder and Vulnerable Adult Unit was created. As I have said before, in this community, we will not tolerate the victimization of our elder and vulnerable residents. Far too many of our residents are vulnerable to such exploitation."

Jail records showed Cuervo Alonso was being held on a $45,000 bond. Attorney information wasn't available.

Full Article & Source:
Home health care worker stole elderly Miami-Dade client's condo: Prosecutors

Caregiver charged after throwing boiling water on client, police say

Tina Vaughn(SCSO)

By Rose Johnson

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - A caregiver was arrested for throwing boiling water on her client, according to Memphis Police Department.

Tina Vaughn, 42, is charged with aggravated assault of a vulnerable adult and simple assault.

On Jan. 24, 2024, at 4:30 p.m. officers responded to a complaint call at the Regional One Burn Center on 877 Jefferson Avenue.

A victim was at the hospital getting treated for 2nd and 3rd-degree burns to the right side of his face, shoulder, and right side of his back. 

Officers were told that on Jan. 21 at 10:30 p.m. the victim was in a residence on Gookin Place and his caregiver, Vaughn, was also inside the home.

The victim was in the kitchen boiling water to cook some noodles. Vaughn was upset at him and told the victim to go to the living room.

The victim then went to sit on the couch when Vaughn came in from the kitchen and threw the boiling water on him, according to the affidavit.

He then yelled and ran out of the apartment.

Vaughn did not call the police or emergency services, instead, she called her supervisor.

The victim returned to the apartment later that night, and the next morning, when Vaughn arrived at work, she called an ambulance which took the victim to the Regional One Burn Center.

The victim identified Vaughn in a six-person lineup as the person who threw the hot water on him. 

Full Article & Source:
Caregiver charged after throwing boiling water on client, police say

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Heather Catallo to receive Wade H. McCree award for guardianship investigations

(WXYZ) — 7 Investigator Heather Catallo and WXYZ-TV have been honored with a Wade H. McCree award by the Michigan Press Association for her series Problems in Probate.

In 2023, Catallo exposed how the Michigan Guardianship Association worked to kill recent legislative reforms. Her work also revealed how Michigan’s busiest probate court was still largely closed to the public, and she highlighted other legal remedies for Michigan families including Supported Decision Making and the efforts to enhance Michigan’s Power of Attorney laws.

“This is a wonderful honor to have this work recognized. Every day we work to hold the government and powerful players in our courts accountable so that local families can have their rights upheld,” said Catallo. “Thank you to the judges for selecting these stories, and thank you to videographer Johnny Sartin Jr. and video editor Randy Lundquist for all of their hard work on these investigations.”

According to the Michigan Press Association Foundation, the McCree awards are presented to "Journalism projects that examined, explained and exposed problems and important issues in law enforcement and the legal system."

In announcing the award, the foundation said:

Reporter Heather Catallo of WXYZ_TV for her reporting on “Problems in Probate: Fighting for Accountability and Access” has been working since 2017 to expose the fraud and abuse in the probate courts in Michigan that result in unnecessary guardianships and conservatorships. In 2021, Catallo’s reporting resulted in four bills being introduced in the Michigan legislature. But guardianship reform has opponents: the judges in the system and the lawyers who work as professional guardians. In 2023, Catallo exposed how the Michigan Guardianship Association worked to kill those bills. She also revealed recordings of a well-known probate judge helping professional guardians and lawyers push back against family members fighting for their loved ones. This reporting not only held the judge accountable, it educated the public about the law and the reforms needed in the probate courts. In addition to exposing the problems with the guardianship system, Catallo is committed to informing and educating the public about other legal remedies available for families. Her coverage of the effort to add Supported Decision Making to Michigan’s laws was welcomed by the disability community and local families. With so many problems in the guardianship system, alternatives to “civil death” must be explored. Catallo also explored new efforts to enhance Michigan’s Power of Attorney laws, another essential step in helping families avoid guardianship.

The McCree awards are named for Judge Wade H. McCree, former lawyer and one of the most distinguished jurists in Michigan history He was a staunch advocate for equal rights and open, accountable government. McCree served as a circuit, federal and U.S. Appeals court judge, and, from 1977-81, as solicitor general of the United States.

The awards will be presented to the winners at the 2024 Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame dinner on April 14th at the Kellogg Center.

The awards were determined by a panel of three judges representing law and media who independently reviewed entries from across Michigan. This is the 50th year for the awards.

In addition to Catallo, awards will also be presented to Reporter Kara Berg of the Detroit News for a series of stories on “Michigan Kids Keep Dying on Child Protective Services’ Watch,” Reporter Lauren Gibbons of Bridge Michigan for her columns “Juvenile Justice carries high costs: Crippling Debt for Parents,” and Reporter Andrea Sahouri of the Detroit Free Press for her column "Exposing Racism, Harassment, assault at Detroit’s Renaissance Center.”

Full Article & Source:
Heather Catallo to receive Wade H. McCree award for guardianship investigations

Attorney General Jackley Announces Texas Couple Convicted By Jury on Theft Charges

Attorney General Marty Jackley | Atty. Gen. Marty Jackley Official Website

By Press Release
Apr 15, 2024

South Dakota Attorney Marty Jackley has announced that a Texas couple has been convicted of a combined six charges in connection with stealing or attempting to steal the property of another person.

A Bon Homme County jury Wednesday convicted Richard Spry, 82, of two felony counts of Grand Theft and one felony count of Conspiracy to Commit Grand Theft. Susan Spry, 75, was convicted of separate felony counts of Grand Theft and Conspiracy to Commit Grand Theft as well as one misdemeanor count of Theft by Exploitation. Both individuals are from League City, Texas.

The two were convicted of stealing money or property from an adult who was elderly or had a disability. The thefts ranged from $100,000 to $500,000 and included money from bank accounts and possession of vehicles.

“These two defendants preyed on a vulnerable member of our society,” said Attorney General Jackley. “Thank you to the Attorney General’s Elder Abuse and Financial Exploitation Unit for investigating and prosecuting this case, and to the jury for its just verdict.”

Sentencing for both individuals is scheduled for July 9. Richard Spry faces a maximum combined sentence of 27 years and Susan Spry faces a maximum combined sentence of 26 years. Both defendants remain out on bond.

The case was investigated and prosecuted by the Elder Abuse and Financial Exploitation Unit of the South Dakota Attorney General’s Office.

Original source can be found here.

Full Article & Source:
Attorney General Jackley Announces Texas Couple Convicted By Jury on Theft Charges

Cat saves diabetic owner's life

When 51-year-old Amanda Jameson lost consciousness and nearly slipped into a diabetic coma, her cat Willow sprung into action; biting Amanda's partner who had fallen asleep watching TV, then leading him upstairs to her. "I can't thank her enough," Jameson said. "She is the world to me."

Cat saves diabetic owner's life

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Three Years After Britney, Wendy Williams Shows Celebrity Conservatorships May Still Be Toxic to Women

Amanda Bynes, Britney Spears, Wendy Williams and Nichelle Nichols. (Chris Smith/TheWrap)

Such court-ordered financial oversight arrangements “adversely and disproportionately impact women,” a lawyer told TheWrap 

by  Andi Ortiz

In 2022, Wells Fargo successfully petitioned a judge to put talk show host Wendy Williams under what was said to be a temporary financial guardianship. The judge froze her accounts and set a hearing to determine if a guardianship was needed, all while the talk show host disputed the decision and accused a Wells Fargo financial advisor of lying to get access to her accounts.

The guardianship became the subject of a documentary on Lifetime this year, and has drawn criticism from her family, who say they have struggled to get access to her for even a phone call as she languishes in a private facility to treat her cognitive issues. They, along with fans, are worried, especially in the wake of her aphasia diagnosis.

It’s not an unfamiliar story. Celebrity conservatorships have entered the mainstream over the last several years, largely in relation to a few famous women. The issue hit a boiling point with Britney Spears, whose 13-year involuntary conservatorship ended in 2021 following a movement fans dubbed #FreeBritney, culminating in multiple documentaries and emotional testimony from the pop star about her life under conservatorship.

Now, fans everywhere are locked on Williams, 59, hoping things don’t go south yet again.

Experts TheWrap consulted — including lawyers and professional therapists experienced in the area — said that while roughly the same number of women and men are put under conservatorships, female celebrities are often subject to adverse conditions. Men like Charlie Sheen have public meltdowns and are able to maintain control over their lives, while women like Spears are deemed unable to take care of themselves — or their wealth.

Conservatorships of celebrity women have become “almost a perverse financial incentive” for members of their families in some cases, Benazeer “Benny” Roshan, a partner at law firm Greenberg Glusker and chair of the Trust and Probate Litigation Practice Group, told TheWrap.

“They adversely and disproportionately impact women,” she said. “Look at the women that are under conservatorship that have regained their cognition and are still conserved. And then you see male examples.

“Did you ever wonder, why wasn’t Charlie Sheen conserved when he was dealing with bowls of coke, and hookers and whatnot? Why wasn’t Kanye West conserved?” Roshan continued. “It’s because, I think on some level, they’re men, and somebody’s like ‘We need to conserve you’ and he’s like, ‘No! I’m fine!’ … The inquiry stops there.”

Wendy Williams attends the world premiere of the Apple TV+ series “The Morning Show.” (Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images)

​Indeed, Sheen ​suffered almost no career consequences for his public  meltdown in 2011, though he lost his sitcom, for which he was paid $1.8 million an episode in his last season. (He later received $25 million in a settlement with Warner Bros. Television and Chuck Lorre over his firing.) Quotes from the interviews that got him fired from “Two and a Half Men” became catch phrases (“Tiger Blood,” “Winning!”). In 2010, he pled guilty to misdemeanor assault and was removed from a hotel after causing $7,000 in damage during a bender.

At the 2011 Television Critics Association press tour, just prior to Sheen’s many drug-addled interviews, CBS’ then-entertainment chief Nina Tassler noted about the actor: “On a professional level, he does his job and he does it well and the show’s a hit, and that’s all I have to say.”

Within a month of losing “Two and a Half Men,” Sheen launched a sold-out comedy tour. That September he was the star of a Comedy Central roast​. And by 2012 he ​had a new sitcom, “Anger Management,” and new movie roles.

Spears, meanwhile, went from publicly shaving her head in February 2007 to an involuntary conservatorship in February 2008. She later testified that she was forced to continue working during that time, saying, “It was very threatening and scary,” and that she only went ahead with another tour “out of fear.”

Charlie Sheen in “Two and a Half Men” (CBS)

The singer also revealed she was forced to have an implanted IUD, preventing her from having more children. That imposed birth control appears to be a struggle unique to women under conservatorship as well. Tom Stenson, the deputy legal director of Disability Rights Oregon, told The Nation in 2021 that he’d never seen a case involving a man’s family seeking to sterilize a man.

“I’m sure somewhere out there, there’s somebody trying to get their son or brother with a disability sterilized,” he said at the time. “But I’ve had a number of these cases arise, and they are, in my experience and so far, all women.”

Differing perceptions of mental health

A conservatorship is put in place when it’s determined that someone cannot make necessary, safe decisions about their well being — physical, financial, or otherwise. Once that is proven to a judge, that person’s rights and decision-making are transferred to someone else, usually a family member or friend.

Those decisions are often subjective, as “every person operating within the larger guardianship system possesses some level of implicit bias,” according to the Justice in Aging organization.

Spears was 26 when she first was conserved. Former Nickelodeon star Amanda Bynes was 27. Lindsay Lohan’s father attempted, but failed, to get his daughter into a conservatorship at 26. Each of these came at a time when the young women were having public mental health crises.

In stark contrast, conservatorships of celebrity men have been largely due to cognitive decline from old age: Mickey Rooney (90), Casey Kasem (81), Randy Meisner (69) and, most recently, Brian Wilson (81). 

[Conservatorships] adversely and disproportionately impact women. Look at the women that are under conservatorship that have regained their cognition and are still conserved.

Benazeer “Benny” Roshan, lawyer

That’s nothing new to mental health professionals. Patrice Le Goy, a psychologist and adjunct professor at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology, told TheWrap that mental health struggles often get “more connected to the ‘fragility’ of women, and with men it is sometimes chalked up to them simply going through a difficult period.”

Both singer Joni Mitchell and actress Nichelle Nichols were placed under a conservatorship due to neurological problems in 2015 and 2018, respectively. Mitchell suffered an aneurysm that hospitalized her, and Nichols was diagnosed with dementia. (That said, Nichols’ situation also drew protestors prior to her death, many of whom worked in the Free Britney movement).

For her part, Wendy Williams was diagnosed with the same aphasia condition as Bruce Willis — which impacts language and communication abilities, as well as behavior and cognitive functions — but Willis remains independent. (Roshan suspects that’s because the “Sixth Sense” actor had done proper estate planning, making a conservatorship unnecessary.)

It’s unclear exactly what kind of conservatorship Williams is under, but she has a court-appointed guardian in Sabrina Morrissey. Even her family does not have many details. According to Williams’ niece who spoke to People magazine, under the rules of the conservatorship, Williams is allowed to call her family, but they cannot call her.

In his 30 years of practicing conservatorship law, David A. Esquibias, who served as Bynes’ lawyer when she ended her conservatorship in 2022, said he’s never noticed a “demonstrable” gender bias. He noted that a conservatorship only comes when “there is a perception” that someone specifically needs outside help, but an exact agreement cannot be reached privately.

“I would assume that you would never go through a conservatorship if you’re able to take care of matters,” he said.

Of course, perception of women’s mental health tends to differ from the perception of men’s. The National Institute of Mental Health notes that some mental disorders are “diagnosed at comparable rates for men and women or at higher rates for men,” but that “men are less likely to have received mental health treatment than women in the past year.”

“In general, it seems that the mental health of women is more up for public debate than that of men,” Le Goy said. “When women have mental health issues, it also seems to live in the public domain for longer than it does for men.”

The money

According to Esquibias, “family dynamic is everything” and will dictate how smoothly the process of conserving someone will go. But mental health experts note conservatorships change and twist family dynamics in particularly detrimental ways for young conservatees. When that conservatee is a celebrity worth millions of dollars, it gets tricky fast.

“When the breadwinner is the child, there is already a dynamic shift that they may have power over their parents,” Le Goy said. “In a way, a conservatorship can almost adjust this power, but not always in a healthy way.”

In her 2020 memoir, Mariah Carey revealed that she was nearly put into a conservatorship as a young adult by her own family, writing that “to my family, I’d been an ‘ATM machine with a wig on.’”

In the case of Britney Spears, it was revealed in 2022 that her father and lawyers took more than $36 million from her estate throughout the course of her conservatorship. 

“It really can be an unnatural and unhealthy family dynamic if not approached with the ultimate care, and with the individual’s mental health as the key priority,” Le Goy added.

Britney Spears (Getty Images)

Wendy Williams was making $10 million annually for her talk show, and in 2015 she got a seven-year contract extension. But in the trailer for her documentary, she declared, “I have no money.”

Having money — or not having it — can certainly impact how a conservatorship goes, particularly for people of color, experts said.

“Wealth and skin color are positively correlated to how one fares when going through the conveyor belt of conservatorship and guardianships,” Roshan said.

Developmental impact

Experts say there’s an additional detriment to putting someone under a conservatorship at a young age, as most female celebrities are: stalling the “natural development” processes.

“Part of our development and growth is the need to take on challenges and fail or succeed, but learn from the experience either way,” Le Goy explained. “When we don’t have the opportunity to make our own mistakes, a crucial part of the development process is missed and this can leave us ‘stuck’ at a younger emotional age than we should be.”

Conservatorships must be terminated by mutual agreement, and with a lot of proof. As Esquibias detailed, the person under conservatorship must demonstrate he or she is able to manage their finances, make their own medical decisions and resist fraud or “the undue influence of others.”

And the burden of proof can have its own effects on a person’s mental health, especially when they’ve been made to doubt their decision-making abilities.

Amanda Bynes attends an appearance at Manhattan Criminal Court in 2013, the year her mother was granted a conservatorship over her. (Getty Images)

“It’s very important to mental and social development to integrate into society with self-trust and the ability to think for yourself,” Asha Tarry, a psychotherapist and CEO of Behavioral Health Consulting Services, told TheWrap. “But, when that’s removed from you, there are all sorts of ramifications … that may make one vulnerable to exploitation.”

These days, Bynes mostly stays out of the public eye, save for a TikTok account, and is headed back to school. In July 2023, she checked herself into a new inpatient mental facility, just a month after she called police on her own behalf, reporting she felt she was a danger to herself.

For Spears, the end of her conservatorship didn’t mean the end of her struggles. She had a very public divorce, an equally public falling out with her younger sister when Jamie Lynn Spears released a book called “Things I Should’ve Said,” and, even still, has had her well being speculated about. She was sent a welfare check at the end of last year after a social media post showed her dancing with kitchen knives (something she did not appreciate).

Still, Spears’ situation and the Free Britney movement helped change things in the system. It led to legislative measures that tightened rules and regulations surrounding conservatorships. Law practitioners have come to refer to them colloquially as “The Britney Spears Rules.” 

TheWrap reached out Spears’ lawyer for comment on this story.

Roshan concedes there is “a double-edged sword” element that comes into play with conservatorships, particularly in celebrity circumstances. Her advice for those who might be facing one: “Get educated, as knowledge is power.”

Full Article & Source:
Three Years After Britney, Wendy Williams Shows Celebrity Conservatorships May Still Be Toxic to Women

Monday, April 15, 2024

Judge continues guardianship case involving elderly woman filed by Huntington businessman

By Chris Dickerson

WAYNE – A guardianship and conservatorship case filed by a prominent Huntington businessman regarding an elderly woman who currently lives in Cincinnati with her son has been continued.

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.

On April 9, Wayne Circuit Judge Jason Fry agreed to continue the case after Ben Coffman Jr., appearing via telephone, said he had yet to obtain legal representation and that his mother is unable to travel to attend a hearing. That was after Fry emptied the courtroom prior to the start of the hearing, removing both a writer for The West Virginia Record and Cihon's wife as well as other individuals waiting for a child adoption hearing.

In his original petition, Cihon 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.

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 also refused to speak after the 15-minute hearing Tuesday, saying he was told not to speak to The Record.

Wayne Circuit Court case number 24-G-7

Full Article & Source:
Judge continues guardianship case involving elderly woman filed by Huntington businessman

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

Judge Rules On ‘American Pickers’ Frank Fritz Conservatorship

By Shawn Lealos

Frank Fritz was placed under conservatorship after suffering a stroke in 2022. However, two times now the conservator and guardian risked being stripped of their roles by the judge overseeing Frank’s affairs. The conservatorship has gone before the judge again and he made a ruling on the recent annual report.

Here is what the judge decided and an update on Frank Fritz as he recovers.

Judge Rules On Frank Fritz Consveratorship Case

After Frank Fritz suffered his stroke, he was placed under a conservatorship to ensure that his bills were paid and his necessities were met. This was placed under a conservator and a guardian. Frank’s guardian is Chris Davis, a close friend. The conservator is Midwest One Bank. However, both Davis and Midwest One Bank have gotten into trouble with the judge overseeing Frank’s case.

The guardianship and conservatorship was put in place on August 18, 2022. Frank suffered his stroke in July 2021. Both the conservator and guardian have to file inventory reports annually. However, a “Notice of Delinquency for Conservatorships” was filed on June 2, 2023, showing the reports were not filed for 2022. A report was filed later in June. A second “Notice of Delinquency for Conservatorships” was filed on December 1, 2023, for the 2023 annual reports. It was due on November 12.

Five months later, it seems the reports for 2023 were finally filed and went before the judge. On April 4, 2024, the judge reviewed the reports and approved them (via The U.S. Sun). This means Chris and Midwest One Bank will keep their roles, but it is unclear what will happen if they fail to report on time again for the third year in a row later in 2024.

Frank Fritz Reports Reveal His Monthly Expenses

According to reports, Frank Fritz has a net worth of $6 million. It is up to his guardian and conservator to protect that money and ensure that Frank has what he needs to survive as he recovers. According to the Midwest One Bank reports, Frank is spending $28,292 a month on expenses.

While that seems like a large sum, it reports that $22,832 a month is spent on medical expenses and in-home health care. That means his main expenses for everything else is $5,460 a month. Frank no longer gets a paycheck from HISTORY for American Pickers, but his net worth is enough that he won’t have to worry about money even with these huge expenses.

He still makes money from his store in Savannah, Illinois. He also owns a lot of things, including 40 motorcycles and four cars — all of which he is planning to sell. One insider claims that Frank has $1 million worth of “stuff” that he can sell when he needs money.

Full Article & Source:
Judge Rules On ‘American Pickers’ Frank Fritz Conservatorship

See Also:

‘American Pickers’ Frank Fritz Conservatorship In Danger

RIGHT PATH American Pickers star Frank Fritz’s conservator files new financial plan as he recovers from debilitating stroke

American Pickers' Frank Fritz Still Under A Conservatorship, But There's Been An Update

PICKING PRIVACY American Pickers star Frank Fritz’s conservator begs judge to seal his financial records and location amid his recovery

CONSERVATOR CHAOS American Pickers star Frank Fritz’s conservator at risk of removal by judge after star suffers debilitating stroke

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Frank Fritz, of 'American Pickers,' under guardianship after stroke

FRANK'S FATE American Pickers alum Frank Fritz’s judge makes major ruling in conservatorship case after star suffers from stroke