Saturday, May 18, 2024

Lifetime movie "The Bad Guardian" based on real accounts of guardianship abuse

Executive producer tells I-Team she wants to educate viewers

For more than a decade, ABC Action News investigative reporter Adam Walser and photojournalist Randy Wright have exposed problems with court-ordered guardianship in our ongoing series “The Price of Protection”. Guardianship is supposed to protect vulnerable seniors, but the I-Team has uncovered it often leads to isolation, exploitation, and abuse. The topic is at the center of a movie premiering on Lifetime Network Saturday.

HOLLYWOOD, CA — For more than a decade, ABC Action News investigative reporter Adam Walser and photojournalist Randy Wright have exposed problems with court-ordered guardianship in our ongoing series “The Price of Protection”.

Guardianship is supposed to protect vulnerable seniors, but the I-Team has uncovered it often leads to isolation, exploitation, and abuse.

The topic is at the center of a movie premiering on Lifetime Network Saturday.

Adam spoke with the movie’s producer about how she hopes the fictional story will educate viewers about the real-life dangers of guardianship.

The movie is called “The Bad Guardian” and stars Melissa Joan Hart and La La Anthony.

“The one way that I saw there was somewhat of a pattern of people getting their loved ones out was through the press, people like you who were shining a light on this story,” said the movie’s executive producer Elizabeth Stephen.

She said she spent years researching guardianship abuse.

“Every single turn of events is true. It's all real. And, you know, it's shocking. I mean, I was looking at some of your pieces this morning, and it reminded me that this is the stuff that really happens,” Stephen said. “What happens is they get into the system, and then, as you know, it's almost impossible to get out.”

She said the fictional story comes from real-life accounts of abusive guardianship she learned about in press accounts or from people who work in organizations to protect vulnerable seniors from abuse.

“It's just shocking. Anybody that I watched the film with, they all talk back to the screen, and they look at me and say, No, this couldn't happen. No,” Stephen said.

The movie airs on Lifetime Saturday at 8 p.m.

If you or your family is a victim of a predatory guardianship, contact the I-Team at

Full Article & Source:
Lifetime movie "The Bad Guardian" based on real accounts of guardianship abuse

Eldridge couple accused of stealing from older relative

by: Linda Cook

An Eldridge couple was in custody Friday after police allege they stole thousands from an older relative, court documents say.  

Cassandra Lynn Crafton, Miles Dwayne Crafton (Scott County Jail)

Miles Crafton, 34, faces felony charges of financial exploitation of an older individual – first offense, ongoing criminal conduct – unlawful activity, first-degree theft and money laundering – acquire property, and serious misdemeanor charges of possession of controlled substance – marijuana – second offense and unlawful possession of a prescription drug, court records show.

Cassandra Crafton, 33, faces felony charges of financial exploitation of an older individual – first offense, ongoing criminal conduct – unlawful activity, money laundering – make property available, and first-degree theft, court records show.

Eldridge Police conducted an investigation based upon ongoing criminal conduct by means of theft, and financial exploitation of an older person (a relative,) according to arrest affidavits.

Cassandra Crafton is accused of stealing money from a relative, police allege in affidavits, which show between the dates of Nov. 1, 2022, and April 30, 2024, Cassandra Crafton took and spent about $34,187.95 for personal gain while her husband, Miles Crafton, took and spent about $22,599.10, affidavits show.

Cassandra Crafton “unlawfully electronically wire-transferred the stolen money to Miles through a cash app account while Miles Crafton also received the funds through his cash app account,” according to affidavits. Total loss was $56,787.05.

“When Miles was being arrested, he was found in possession of prescription medication not prescribed to him and he was in possession of a THC vape,” police say in affidavits.

Miles Crafton is being held on a $72,000 bond in Scott County Jail, where Cassandra Crafton is being held on a $70,000 bond. Both are set for preliminary hearings May 24 in Scott County Court.

Full Article & Source:
Eldridge couple accused of stealing from older relative

Friday, May 17, 2024

Melissa Joan Hart Talks ‘The Bad Guardian’ & How Film Explores the ‘Opposite’ of Britney Spears’ Conservatorship

by Avery Thompson

Melissa Joan Hart plays a daughter on a mission to save her father in the new Lifetime movie The Bad Guardian, premiering May 18. Leigh, played by Hart, is shocked to learn her elderly father has been put under the control of a court-appointed guardian (La La Anthony) after a fall. In her TV Insider interview, Hart reveals she was stunned by what she learned about guardianships while filming the movie.

“The story just seemed unbelievable to me,” Hart tells TV Insider. “First of all, that this is happening all across our nation and that there’s this corruption within this guardianship. It’s a $2.9 billion business, so I was just fascinated to learn all this and to see how people would struggle with this.”

She adds, “Of course, we know the stories of Britney Spears and Wendy Williams that are going through these conservatorships or guardianships, but in their cases they’re high-profile women that are young and trying to get themselves out of it.”

This deep dive into guardianships was “all brand-new information” for Hart. “I was aware of the Britney Spears situation but that seemed very different,” she explains. “That was her own father coming in and putting her in a conservatorship, and then her trying to break out of that and the whole Free Britney thing. It was almost like the opposite of this story in a sense. That’s the only kind of understanding I had of a guardianship before the movie.”

In The Bad Guardian, Leigh and her family don’t have the money to “fight the big fight against the corruption that happens in a lot of these cases and how someone can move in and take over a family member and take over everything from their medical decisions to their bank accounts to their home, their property, everything. I really like the idea of shedding light on this and maybe helping people find some information to find a way out of it.”

Leigh’s fight for her father and exposing this bad guardianship reminded Hart of “Erin Brockovich about a small town woman trying to fight the system. That’s what I really loved about playing this character. Leigh was trying to navigate this big, crazy world that’s been going on for a while and nobody’s really cracked the case, so here she is trying to save her family.”

The Sabrina the Teenage Witch alum believes “there’s a place for guardianships” in certain situations. “There’s definitely people out there that need someone to advocate for them or make decisions for the,” or “they don’t have a family member that can help out,” Hart notes. “But anywhere there’s a lot of money, there’s power and greed and corruption. I feel like that’s the story we’re telling.”

The Bad Guardian, May 18, 8/7c, Lifetime

Full Article & Source:
Melissa Joan Hart Talks ‘The Bad Guardian’ & How Film Explores the ‘Opposite’ of Britney Spears’ Conservatorship

Man guilty of sex crime against elderly, incapacitated victim

Donald Vester Robbins Jr.

A DeKalb County jury found a man guilty last week of a sexual offense involving an elderly woman who was incapable of consenting due to incapacity, according to Ninth Judicial Circuit District Attorney Summer Summerford.

Donald Vester Robbins Jr., was found guilty May 8 of first-degree sexual abuse. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for June 12 before Judge Jeremy Taylor.

Robbins faces a statutory sentence length of one year and one day-10 years in prison for the Class C felony.

During the trial, prosecutors presented evidence that Robbins subjected the elderly victim to sexual contact, and evidence that the victim was unable to consent to such sexual contact because she had dementia.

“We must take special care of those in our community who are the most vulnerable,” Summerford said. 

“The elderly members of our community helped take care of all of us as we grew up.  Now, it is time for us to take care of them. 

“For someone to take advantage of an elderly person’s mental decline is reprehensible.  My office will do everything we can to bring such individuals to justice,” said Summerford.

The case was investigated by the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office and prosecuted by Assistant District Attorneys Stanna Guice and Matt Green. 

Full Article & Source:
Man guilty of sex crime against elderly, incapacitated victim

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Wendy Williams’ dream NYC penthouse sold by guardian for a loss after former TV host deemed ‘incapacitated’

by Mary K. Jacob

Wendy Williams’ cherished Manhattan penthouse, once hailed as her dream abode, has been sold off by her guardian, The Post has learned.

The transaction, which closed on May 10, occurred only several years after Williams acquired the Financial District property. It’s also the latest chapter in Williams’ ongoing legal and personal challenges after being diagnosed in 2023 with primary progressive aphasia and frontotemporal dementia.

Records accessed by The Post indicate that Williams, 59, was deemed “incapacitated,” thus necessitating the involvement of a guardian in the decision-making process regarding the sale of her residence.

The three-bedroom, three-bathroom penthouse traded hands for $3.75 million, marking a considerable decrease of $822,000 from its purchase price in July 2021.

An insider close to Williams lamented her circumstances, telling The Post, “Wendy’s dream has always been to live in Manhattan in a dream apartment but never got a chance to do so. It is a very unfortunate situation.”

Prior to the sale, Williams divested herself of all personal belongings housed within the property, including her iconic purple chair, a fixture synonymous with her provocative “Hot Topics” segment that captivated audiences for years.

Meanwhile, at the same time that Williams was selling off her belongings, she was also dealing with a hefty tax problem.

She owed more than half a million dollars in unpaid taxes, which resulted in a federal tax lien. Legal documents revealed that her New York City condo, purchased for $4.5 million in 2021, was affected by this lien.

Speculation had arisen regarding Williams’ potential relocation to sunny Los Angeles.

But a separate source speaking to Page Six did not know if she would actually go through with it.

“She was asking how to sell her stuff with ‘The Real Real,’ but I don’t think she’s actually moving to Los Angeles. She seems so unwell.”

Spanning more than 2,400 square feet, Williams’ former FiDi residence boasts luxurious amenities characteristic of Manhattan’s elite living spaces.

The main level has a spacious living/dining room area, an open kitchen replete with custom stained walnut cabinetry, granite countertops, and top-of-the-line Miele and Sub-Zero appliances.

The upper level has the primary suite, adorned with an ensuite five-fixture bath boasting opulent marble accents and state-of-the-art fixtures.

In addition to its lavish interiors, the building has an array of amenities, including a fitness center and a Water Club featuring a 60-foot lap pool, a sauna, a steam room and a Jacuzzi.

The Post has reached out to Williams’ reps for comment.

Williams’ personal and professional struggles have been well-documented over the past year, culminating in her absence from public view following the conclusion of her talk show in 2022.

A series of health issues — also including Graves’ Disease and lymphedema — prompted the appointment of a financial guardian to oversee her affairs, with Williams also seeking treatment for “severe alcohol use” at a rehabilitation facility in Malibu.

Full Article & Source:
Wendy Williams’ dream NYC penthouse sold by guardian for a loss after former TV host deemed ‘incapacitated’

See Also:
Wendy Williams

Woman arrested for financial exploitation of elderly

by Kyle Peppers

HUMBOLDT, Tenn. — A West Tennessee woman has been arrested for the financial exploitation of an elderly individual.

According to booking information, 63-year-old Carolyn Faye Hunley was arrested by Humboldt Police on Monday afternoon and transported to the Gibson County Correctional Complex.

Hunley is facing one count of financial exploitation of elderly/vulnerable person, and two counts of theft of services.

Booking info shows her bond was set at $25,000, and she was released from custody late Monday evening.

Hunley has a court appearance set for May 22.

Full Article & Source:
Woman arrested for financial exploitation of elderly

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Home care providers cheer first-ever federal regulations for adult protective services

by Adam Healy

The Administration for Community Living this week finalized the first-ever set of federal regulations governing adult protective services (APS) programs. These programs often work closely with home care providers to help older adults live independently in their communities.

ACL’s final rule received praise from home care advocates, including the National Association for Home Care & Hospice.

“NAHC supports the development of standards for state APS services,” the association told McKnight’s Home Care Daily Pulse, in a statement. “The regulations will help to improve consistency in services across states, better protect the vulnerable elderly, and increase understanding of the APS processes and expectations for those who provide care in the home.”

The new regulations for APS, published Tuesday in the Federal Register, established national data reporting requirements, ethics policies and common definitions to improve information sharing. ACL built upon the National Voluntary Consensus Guidelines for State APS Systems, an existing set of codes that voluntarily bound APS programs, to produce the national regulations.

“For many years, the APS community, Congress and other stakeholders have called for federal guidance, leadership and resources for APS systems,” Alison Barkoff, leader of the ALC, said in a statement. “With the APS final rule, ACL is answering that call.”

Vulnerable population

In establishing national standards, ACL said it intends to provide stronger protections for APS recipients — many of whom are older adults or people with disabilities living at home and in their communities. These individuals are often at risk of abuse, neglect or exploitation. Roughly 1 in 10 older adults living in the community experience some form of maltreatment, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, and few cases are actually reported. APS programs work to connect victims with resources like home- and community-based services providers to aid their recovery, ACL noted in the final rule. 

The new regulations will take effect on June 7, according to the ACL, and regulated entities will have four years to achieve compliance.

Guardianship warning 

ACL solicited feedback for the rule in September 2023. Many commenters raised concerns related to older adults subject to or at risk of guardianship. ACL’s guidelines advised APS providers to exhaust all available community-based resources to help prevent guardianship.

“APS programs should recommend guardianship, whether they themselves are petitioning for guardianship, accepting a court appointment to serve as a guardian, or referring to another entity to petition for or serve as guardian, only as a last resort if lesser-restrictive measures have been exhausted or determined not feasible,” ACL wrote in the final rule. 

APS programs address the following, ACL noted: Medicaid home and community-based services, Older Americans Act-funded programs such as congregate and home-delivered meals, homemaker and chore services, and transportation.”

Older adults at risk of being subject to guardianship also have caught some lawmakers’ attention. Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) recently introduced the “Alternatives to Guardianship Education Act,” which promotes awareness of guardianship alternatives among healthcare workers and family caregivers.

“Awareness of guardianship alternatives by people that frequently interact with older adults, people with disabilities, and other individuals at risk of guardianship determinations may helpreduce unnecessary guardianship arrangements and preserve decision-making rights,” Casey said Wednesday in a statement.

Full Article & Source:
Home care providers cheer first-ever federal regulations for adult protective services

‘Guilty Until Proven Innocent’: How Nursing Homes Are Navigating a Tough Survey Environment

By Shelby Grebbin

As operators face a difficult survey environment, collaborating with other industry leaders – and trying to work with state survey agencies – may be the key to staying in the green.

“As providers, I think it’s really easy for us to concentrate solely on our company,”  Kimberly Green, COO of Diakonos Group, said during a recent Skilled Nursing News (SNN) panel on the skilled nursing survey environment. “When we all realize that there are enough patients to go around and that the industry is changing, we must all collaborate with each other. Here, we want state agencies to collaborate … we really need to see each other as peers and work together.”

In discussing how to improve the survey process so that it’s more collaborative and productive for all involved, Green was joined by Tim Fields, CEO at Ignite Medical Resorts, and Sonya Pusser, AVP of Clinical Operations at American Health Communities. The panelists highlighted examples of undeserved and avoidable citations, and suggested that those involved with surveys return to using some of the practices, including educational opportunities, of the pre-Pandemic era.

Diakonos recounted a specific incident where her team challenged a survey finding all the way to the federal level, and the frustration her team experienced when surveyors seemed uninterested in reviewing documentation and partnering with providers.

“We are waiting to hear about that,” she said. “But when we were trying to talk to the surveyor about it, and show them what was in the documentation, they basically refused to even review it. It was like, ‘This is what it is, we’re moving on, you can deal with this,’ because Immediate Jeopardy has a very specific process.”

Pusser echoed Green’s sentiments, citing instances of regulatory misinterpretations leading to undeserved citations, despite her teams’ efforts to address compliance issues promptly.

“We find some of that in one of the smaller [regulations] that has come to mind,” she said. “There’s the regulation related to labeling and storage; well, it really just speaks to those medications that are going to expire before the manufacturer expiration date. But then they’ll come in and cite all these different medications that really do expire at the expiration date.”

Yet she said that there are opportunities for improvement in communication and collaboration between health care associations, such as the Health Care Association and the American Health Care Association, and regulatory bodies like the Health Commission, who can work on behalf of providers to share insights and feedback, aiming for more timely surveys, results, and follow-ups.

She said that before the pandemic, operators in Tennessee had an educational forum on an annual basis where operators and surveyors could ask each other questions.

“I think there are opportunities out there; we just have to get back to doing that,” she said. “And they have to be willing to remember what it was like. I think it’s helpful if the surveyors have some long-term care experience to gain insight into what it’s like in a long-term care facility.”

Regional variability

Regional variability in survey approaches across different states is something that Ignite has to keep track of, Fields said, since they operate in Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas.

“We’re seeing a form of [variability] in every single state,” he said. “Again, I’m painting with a broad brush here on some really good surveyors out there. There are some really good regents out there. Some people have been very collaborative and fair to work with; some of our higher-ups, you know, contacts at all the state levels, have been great to work with.”

Such friendships with other multi-state operators, and amicable relationships with surveyors, can help operators get a leg-up on potential areas of concern, Pusser said.

“Where elopement might have been an immediate jeopardy years ago in one state, it’s not now…It does seem to change as you move along,” she said. “We do have some great surveyors who have that experience and really do want to offer you assistance. They can’t give you recommendations, but sometimes, if you respond quickly to certain things and they know you’re going to address it, you might get that FYI.”

The panelists agreed on the importance of establishing proactive communication channels with survey agencies, fostering mutual understanding, and working towards shared goals of enhancing resident care.

Regular communication and collaboration between providers and state agencies proved beneficial, especially during the pandemic, Green said.

“The state would have weekly phone calls, and all the providers would get on,” she said. “They would roll out any new regulations, any changes, clarify for understanding, and ask if we had any input…Now, I have to admit, initially, it was a running joke because it was basically [state officials] were saying, ‘I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know,’ to most of our questions. But it turned into a really great Q&A where we learned together.”

Education opportunities for staff

Fields recommended utilizing the entire management team to address patient and family concerns before they escalate to state involvement. He also advocated for a concierge or hospitality model to engage families directly and resolve issues internally, rather than having them escalate to state authorities.

“We have to play in an environment where we’re guilty until proven innocent,” he said. “And if we take that mindset and try to play offense on this, there are a lot of things we can do on a daily basis.”

Ignite has implemented ‘Guardian rounds,’ where the entire management team checks up on patients and families to make sure there aren’t any issues, Fields said.

“I’ve heard from many state representatives that if they get called, they can only come in once a year,” he said. “So, they’re not coming in for an annual visit; they’re coming because somebody called them. Preventing people from calling them is a good way to play offense.”

Pusser recommended attending educational sessions, developing policies and procedures, and consistently educating facility staff.

“Come up with your internal plan on how you are going to make adjustments within your education, policies, procedures, and electronic health records (EHR) to be able to answer all the questions with the updated Minimum Data Set (MDS),” she said.

Full Article & Source:
‘Guilty Until Proven Innocent’: How Nursing Homes Are Navigating a Tough Survey Environment

Caregiver caught on video assaulting 93-year-old woman with dementia

Caregiver caught on video assaulting 93-year-old woman with dementia

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Three More Accused of Role in Scamming Elderly Nationwide


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

ST. LOUIS – Three people from California have been federally indicted and accused of participating in a conspiracy that used Taiwanese passports, fraudulent bank accounts and “money mules” to scam elderly victims nationwide, joining four others also accused of a role. 

On May 8, Bowen Chen, 21, of Monterey Park, Jiacheng Chen, 19, of East San Gabriel, and Vianne Chen, a.k.a. Tingting T. Chen, 41, were added to an indictment in U.S. District Court in St. Louis. Four other Californians have already been indicted on charges including conspiracy to commit mail, bank and wire fraud: Liang Jin, 24, of Walnut, Tsz Yin Kan, 41, of Chino Hills, Kaiyu Wen, 25, of Irvine, and Yu-Chieh Huang, 22, of Chino Hills.

The expansion of the initial case in St. Louis was part of the Money Mule Initiative, an annual campaign to identify, disrupt, and criminally prosecute networks of individuals who transmit funds from fraud victims to international fraudsters. Fraudsters rely on money mules to aid a range of fraud schemes, including those that predominantly impact older Americans, such as lottery fraud, romance scams and grandparent scams as well as those that target businesses or government pandemic funds. This year, law enforcement took action to stop over 3,000 money mules. These actions ranged from criminal prosecutions to letters warning those who may have been unknowingly recruited by fraudsters. Agencies are also educating the public about how fraudsters use money mules and how to avoid unknowingly assisting fraud by receiving and transferring money.

The St. Louis indictment accuses Kan of setting up USA You Yi Sheng Inc. as an education service business in California. Kan then produced fraudulent immigration paperwork known as the Form I-20, or "Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status," the indictment says. Vianne Chen, a bank employee, Kan and others opened student checking accounts using the fake I-20 forms and Taiwanese passports that had been shipped to Kan, the indictment says. 

Other scammers targeted older Americans with tech support fraud, romance fraud, and imposter schemes and tricked their victims into collecting and delivering large amounts of cash to money mules like Huang, the indictment says. Couriers converted the cash they collected from fraud victims and others engaged in criminal activity into cashier’s checks that they deposited into a bank account that has received more than $7 million, the indictment says.

Bowen Chen was the largest depositor into that account, accounting for $1.3 million, the indictment says. Jiacheng Chen deposited approximately $615,000 and Kan deposited $440,000, it says. 

Huang was the first to be charged in the case. In August, an elderly Missouri man was told via a pop-up ad that his computer was infected with a virus. He and his wife were then falsely told that someone had been accessing child pornography through the computer and they would have to pay $88,000 to avoid prosecution, according to charging documents. The Missouri couple gathered the money, but got suspicious and contacted police, who arrested Huang.

Charges set forth in an indictment are merely accusations and do not constitute proof of guilt.  Every defendant is presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Homeland Security Investigations investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Tracy Berry and Kyle Bateman are prosecuting the case.

If you or someone you know is age 60 or older and has experienced financial fraud, experienced professionals are standing by at the National Elder Fraud Hotline: 1-833-FRAUD-11 (1-833-372-8311). This Justice Department hotline, managed by the Office for Victims of Crime, can provide personalized support to callers by assessing the needs of the victim and identifying relevant next steps. Case managers will identify appropriate reporting agencies, provide information to callers to assist them in reporting, connect callers directly with appropriate agencies, and provide resources and referrals, on a case-by-case basis. Reporting is the first step. Reporting can help authorities identify those who commit fraud and reporting certain financial losses due to fraud as soon as possible can increase the likelihood of recovering losses. The hotline is open Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. ET. English, Spanish, and other languages are available. The Federal Trade Commission also provides a hotline at 877-FTC-HELP and a website at to receive consumer complaints.

More information about the Department’s efforts to help American seniors is available at its Elder Justice Initiative webpage. For more information about the Consumer Protection Branch and its enforcement efforts, visit The Justice Department provides information about a variety of resources relating to elder fraud victimization through its Office for Victims of Crime, which are available at


Robert Patrick, Public Affairs Officer,

Updated May 13, 2024

Three More Accused of Role in Scamming Elderly Nationwide

Former caregivers charged in functionally impaired man’s death 7 months later, court docs say

By Mary LeBus

WYOMING, Ohio (WXIX) - Two former group home caregivers are being charged in the death of a functionally impaired resident in Wyoming, court documents state.

Mgbenta Djomgoa, 50, of West Chester Township, and 27-year-old Diana Bediako, of Cincinnati, are the two suspects at the center of the case, Hamilton County court records show.

On Oct. 28, 2023, Wyoming police and EMS personnel were dispatched to Graceworks Enhanced Living Group Home at approximately 12:15 p.m. for a report of a resident not breathing, according to an affidavit.

Officers found the resident, Daniel Jenkins, “lifeless” in his home, the affidavit says. While life-saving measures were performed, Jenkins was pronounced dead that day.

Full Article & Source:
Former caregivers charged in functionally impaired man’s death 7 months later, court docs say

Memphis caregiver charged with abuse of vulnerable adult

by: Raven Moore

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A now-former Memphis caregiver has been arrested following an investigation by special agents with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Medicaid Fraud Control Division.

Rhonda Parker, 50, was charged with one count of abuse of a vulnerable adult following an incident that took place last year.

In September 2023, special agents received allegations of abuse of a vulnerable adult from Adult Protective Services (APS).

Along with APS and the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, agents developed information that on Septemeber 15, a patient at a home health care residence in Memphis was struck by a caregiver.

The investigation revealed that Parker, a caregiver and house manager at the time, was the individual responsible for the incident.

In March 2024, the Shelby County Grand Jury returned an indictment charging Parker with one count of abuse of a vulnerable adult.

On May 10, special agents with the assistance of the Memphis Police Department, arrested Parker on an outstanding warrant.

She was booked into the Shelby County Jail on a $20,000 bond.

Full Article & Source:
Memphis caregiver charged with abuse of vulnerable adult

Monday, May 13, 2024

I-Team: A family's plea to read the fine print when signing up for Medicaid

by Mary Kielar

Ellen McCauley says Medicaid has a $220,000 lien on her mother's home. (Photos provided by Ellen McCauley)

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Memories of love and laughter at home are becoming a nightmare for one Syracuse family.

Ellen McCauley's mother's home on West Onondaga Street is now in the hands of Medicaid after she passed away in January of 2023.

"I think about how the Christmas tree was always over there and how the little kids grew up and now they have children of their own. I think about playing games around the table and how much laughter we had," said McCauley. "We knew that her greatest wish was that this house was our inheritance, my sister Mae and I."

How It Started

In 2019 Ellen's mother's health declined, and they were looking into options for her care. The solution came from her great-niece, who agreed to move into the house with her two small children to take care of her.

"We saw those commercials, hey ... for free you can get help in the home. Pay your loved ones. So we said let's do that! So we signed her up with a local company, my niece made minimum wage, never more than $10,000 a year, and we didn't even realize that this local company was getting $4,000 to $5,000 a month."

The company is Syracuse-based Nascentia Health. A spokesperson deferred comment to New York Medicaid when the I-Team reached out for this story. Ellen says they would call and check in periodically on her mother's care-but her niece handled the day-to-day tasks she needed help with.

A Harsh Realization

Now, McCauley says Medicaid has taken over her later mother's home. "It wasn't until my mother died that we got a letter from Medicaid saying they put a $202,000 lien on this house on West Onondaga."

A lien is a right to keep property belonging to another person until a debt owed by that person is paid. In this case, that property is Ellen's mother's house and Medicaid is legally working to recoup the money spent on her care.

She is literally in heaven, in G-d's ear going, 'They can't take my house, I worked too hard for it, G-d.'

Federal Medicaid rules say state Medicaid programs must recover certain Medicaid benefits on behalf of the person enrolled, which could mean taking property.

A spokesperson for the New York State Health Department says applicants are informed of this possibility when they apply for Medicaid, but Ellen says she can't remember ever hearing about it, which is why she reached out to the I-Team.

Legal Advice

"It's emotional ... it's their parent or their spouse, and it's extremely difficult. If you plan ahead, kind of take away some of that stress," explained Anthony Copani of Mannion Copani in Syracuse. He focuses on elder law and Medicaid.

The I-Team reached out for his take on the McCauley family's situation. "They won't file a lien against the home while the person's living there. But, when she died they were able to go back the ten years, add up all the monies that they paid out and then filed the lien against the home at that time. But yes, if that person was in a nursing home and she was not likely to return home, then Medicaid's right to lien the property would've been more immediate."

Copani's legal advice is to consider creating a family trust. That way, a property like a family home will never be attached to a Medicaid lien. Planning should start five years before applying for long-term care assistance. He adds that failure to plan ahead means after someone dies, their estate is created. If the property is included and they were receiving some type of assistance, the lien can be attached.

How To Protect Yourself and Your Property

The NYS Health Department says Medicaid applicants are given the information with the warning that property could be taken by Medicaid.

When you do that at your local Department of Social Services you can get a copy of documents on the NYS Office of Temporary Disability Assistance website or request a paper copy by mail.

It's a step McCauley wishes she knew to take, but she hopes sharing her family's story will help one family avoid this outcome. 

"My mother would be so happy if she thought that one person would be safe from this same situation by listening to what I have to say today, and not going on managed Medicaid because they don't want their loved one to lose their home."

Full Article & Source:
I-Team: A family's plea to read the fine print when signing up for Medicaid

Missouri woman arrested for stealing thousands from elderly father in conservatorship

by NTV News

FURNAS COUNTY, Neb — A woman charged with theft from her elderly father under her conservatorship in Nebraska has been arrested.

According to the Furnas County Sheriff's Office, Dawn Hildreth, 50, of O’Fallon, Missouri was arrested in Bozeman, Montana on Friday, May 3.

Furnas County Court records say Hildreth is charged with theft by unlawful taking (more than $5,000), perjury and abuse of a vulnerable adult.

They said in January 2023, Hildreth was named temporary guardian and conservator of her father, who is in a nursing home after being diagnosed with dementia and/or Alzheimer’s.

An arrest affidavit said it was later discovered that she had seemingly stolen $20,581.33 through purchases and travel expenses, plus another $28,713.52 in unexplained cash withdrawals.

Furnas County Sheriff's Office said Hildred posted a $50,000 bond on Thursday.

Full Article & Source:
Missouri woman arrested for stealing thousands from elderly father in conservatorship

See Also:
Missouri woman charged for theft from Nebraska elderly father under her conservatorship

Sunday, May 12, 2024

Elder Care Law Is Not Designed for Working Mothers in the Sandwich Generation

Court-appointed guardianship locked me in a soundproof closet with other adult daughters navigating a world not designed for women.

(Maskot / Getty Images)

Britney Spears’ autobiography revealed details of her father’s abuse of power through a court-ordered conservatorship that lasted from 2008 to 2021. Her father had reproductive control over her body and even what she ate. 

My experience with a court-ordered legal guardianship didn’t last 13 years, but I am an adult daughter who experienced abuse by a father. The difference is Britney’s dad was the conservator of her, and I was the guardian of my dad. 

Before retiring, my dad owned a small concrete business in our rural Kentucky hometown. He rode a Harley Davidson and went to church on Sundays, except when the weather was nice. He planned meticulously for his end of life like a fantasy. He initiated durable power of attorney (POA) and healthcare surrogate documentation for me to protect his interests in the future. For 20 years, he trained me relentlessly so I would know exactly how to execute his final wishes. 

What he didn’t plan for was dementia. 

My dad was born during the Silent Generation. He served in the U.S. Army Reserves. He wanted a son but got a daughter. Fathers should be grateful to have a daughter, since research proves we provide twice as much caregiving for senior parents than sons do.

My dad also didn’t plan for his health to decline when I was part of the 71 percent of working mothers in America. 

Working mothers and adult daughters who make up the majority of the sandwich generation need the ability to also care for their own mental and physical well-being to avoid burnout. 

Why did I pursue court-appointed legal guardianship for my father? Because POA failed me when he needed it most. My dad was on a path to wreck himself financially. Before his second traumatic hospital stay, where he received the Alzheimer’s diagnosis, he opened three new checking accounts, closed two other bank accounts, opened credit cards at different retail stores he did not frequent, bought a dog, and canceled his Medicare Advantage insurance. A blizzard of yellow post-it notes with his Social Security number and other account log-in information were scattered around his house. Leeches and predators tried to gain access to his life and also harassed and threatened me. 

Alzheimer’s made my dad physically aggressive. He lived with my family for six weeks. As a mother, I could not have this behavior in my home around my children. 

While my POA indicated I was my dad’s chosen healthcare surrogate and could make decisions when he was incapacitated, every time I called to “fix” something he had broken, I was asked to put him on the phone for his approval—even after I explained he was incapacitated with Alzheimer’s. To complicate matters, his Alzheimer’s diagnosis came during the worldwide pandemic in 2020. He lived 800 miles away from me. 

Trying to undo damage my dad did to his Medicare health insurance while denied rights as POA was a nightmare. Alzheimer’s care isn’t cheap. His long-term memory care cost up to $9,000 per month, and it was not easy to secure during the pandemic with a healthcare professional shortage.

Achieving court-appointed guardianship was a different nightmare. Eleven months and thousands of dollars later, I was appointed and bonded as his legal guardian (of the person and of the estate) in Texas. But, court-appointed guardianship locked me in a soundproof closet with other adult daughters navigating a world not designed for women. 

Why wasn’t the court order enough? Because a woman with legal power isn’t enough. 

Banks, health Insurance companies, and other businesses serving seniors do not understand Alzheimer’s disease. Most businesses have standard legalize for POA situations; however, guardianship overrides pre-existing POA.

This does no good when businesses are unaware of the differences between POA and guardianship.

  • POA is meant to help someone temporarily incapacitated due to health or advanced age.
  • Guardianship is when someone is not of sound mind, cannot make safe or logical decisions, and their situation is not expected to resolve itself for the long term.

Why do businesses expect a senior citizen diagnosed with an irreversible disease of the mind to make financial or health decisions? Why wasn’t the court order enough? Because a woman with legal power isn’t enough. 

Being a working mom of children doing virtual school during the pandemic, also in the middle of a graduate degree, and suddenly caring for a delusional and aggressive senior parent while being forced to educate every single business on what guardianship legally appointed me to do was overwhelming.

Guardianship paperwork is thick. Do you know how many businesses asked if I had a fax machine? What end consumer in the age of AI and self-driving cars has a fax machine at home or can get to one easily during a pandemic? Why pay a dollar per page to fax information in the age of Alexa, Google and smartphones when I should be able to email or upload a file? 

The most dehumanizing part of legal guardianship was being a woman. 

I was constantly put in my societal place. Businesses repeatedly denied my rights. One financial institution denied my right to close an account. They demanded a court order. Their ignorance was that my court-appointed legal guardianship is a court order. The experience of trying to advocate for my incapacitated father and my rights as his guardian involved ghosting, gaslighting and blurred interpretations of legal rights.  

My dad died three months later. 

Now it’s eight months later, and I’m still waiting—only now, I’m stuck in this legal guardianship and can’t get out. It is a ridiculously desensitized process void of human compassion that prevents adult daughters from properly grieving and processing trauma.

I’m an only child of divorce. There was no village of support.

Alzheimer’s disease was not the worst part of my dad’s end of life. It was the stress, isolation and trauma from the elder law experience. 

It would’ve been different if I had been a son.   

Facts. Caregiving falls to women. Alzheimer’s disease is on track to collapse the U.S. healthcare system with people living longer. Working mothers and adult daughters who make up the majority of the sandwich generation need the ability to also care for their own mental and physical well-being to avoid burnout

The Road to Elder Law Reform

Elder law reform can be improved with four action items.

First, POA must define incapacitation and quantify “temporary,” federally, for all states, in clear and detailed terms. Dumb it down. It is currently too broad, too big, and open to interpretation.

Second, when adult daughters live in another state away from her senior parent, POA documentation should be state-mobile so she can continue working and caring for her children and senior parent.

Third, the federal government should require specialized training for banks, insurance companies, and other business legal departments so they communicate with POAs accurately and legally.

Fourth, when adult children provide legitimate documentation from licensed medical physicians who have diagnosed a senior citizen with Alzheimer’s (translation: incapacitated), elder law attorneys need to make the legal language clear that POA exists for a time such as this. Otherwise, the United States risks working mothers leaving their jobs when there aren’t enough workers and ruining her own health—which will ironically further strain our healthcare system.  

Full Article & Source:
Elder Care Law Is Not Designed for Working Mothers in the Sandwich Generation

Adult guardianship to be topic of session

WINTERSVILLE — Adult guardianship is the focus of an informational session this Monday to benefit families of people with disabilities.

Special Connections and the Arc of Ohio are teaming up for the meeting at 6 p.m. at Crossroads Christian Church in Wintersville. The event will feature Jefferson County Common Pleas Probate and Juvenile Judge Frank Noble, who will address guardianship of adult loved ones with special needs.

Special Connections, which is a collaboration between the Special Needs Parents of the Ohio Valley Facebook Page, Crossroads Christian Church and the Jefferson County Board of Developmental Disabilities, has provided activities for children and adults with disabilities and information to improve their quality of life while Arc of Ohio, which stands for Advocates for the Rights of Citizens, helps those with intellectual or developmental disabilities from birth through senior citizens. Arc advocates for human rights, personal dignity and common participation of people with IDD through legislative or social action, information and education, local chapter support and family involvement.

The groups joined forces last summer to provide speakers on important subjects impacting that population.

Special Connections representative Mindy Aleksiejczyk said a different subject has been discussed each month to spread the word about available services and help the people and families they serve.

Judge Noble will discuss guardianship of adult individuals with disabilities. He will provide information to local families about when to start the process and how it works,” Aleksiejczyk said. “This is a very important topic to cover because many families do not have information on the process of obtaining guardianship of their loved ones.”

She added that it was important to make a connection with the community and give parents and caretakers resources to benefit those in their care. About 15-20 families normally attend the sessions and the church will also provide a young adult hangout for individuals to socialize.

Full Article & Source:
Adult guardianship to be topic of session