Saturday, June 15, 2024

Sparks fly in Lansing as probate judges push back on proposed guardianship reforms

By: Heather Catallo

LANSING, Mich. (WXYZ) — Sparks flew during a Senate committee hearing today in Lansing as probate judges pushed back on proposed guardianship reforms. Local families have been demanding changes to Michigan’s laws after 7 Investigator Heather Catallo’s years-long investigation into the state’s guardianship system.

Catallo has been exposing abuses in the system since 2017, and advocates for the elderly have been trying to get new legislation passed since 2021.

On Thursday, the head of Attorney General Dana Nessel’s Elder Abuse Task Force announced that they have had to drop the bill that would have formed an Office of the State Guardian, at least for now.

“They took my mom before I knew it,” said Chandra Drayton during a 2021 interview with Catallo, about her family’s experience with a professional guardian in Detroit.

“It's disgusting. Our elderly people shouldn't be a commodity and shouldn't be able to be trafficked by these people,” said Gretchen Sommer, whose aunt and uncle were separated from family members by a guardian who erected a 6-foot privacy fence around the elderly couples’ home in Macomb County.

Sommer and Drayton are just some of the family members across our community demanding change. And so are the members of the Attorney General’s Elder Abuse Task Force as they fight to get four bills passed in Lansing.

“A system that ignores the rights of vulnerable adults and dehumanizes them and ignores the concerns of family members doesn’t do justice and it must be changed,” said Financial Crimes Division Chief Scott Teter during testimony in front of the Senate Committee on Civil Rights, Judiciary & Public Safety. Teter is the head of the Elder Abuse Task Force.

The task force has worked for years to increase protections in Michigan’s guardianship laws for vulnerable adults. If you’re placed under guardianship, you’re declared legally incapacitated and no longer have any rights.

“They determine whether or not you can marry, whether or not you can divorce, whether or not you can live in your own house,” said Rep. Kelly Breen (D-Novi). Breen is one of the sponsors of the bills.

“The bills come from one simple truth, which is there are too many adults across the state who have been taken advantage of,” said Rep. Graham Filler (R-St. Johns). Filler has sponsored legislation twice, trying to make changes to the guardianship laws.

During Thursday’s testimony, the head of the Elder Abuse Task Force announced they’ve had to drop a bill that would have established an Office of the State Guardian and require certification of professional guardians.

“We will be coming back with it next year. It’s not going anywhere. Certification has to happen in the state of Michigan,” said Teter.

But the bills still provide several protections, including making sure probate judges put their reasons on the court record if they choose a professional guardian over a family member who wants to take care of their own loved one.

“How do you appeal a non-record? The answer is you can’t,” said Teter.

The changes to the law would also expand the responsibilities of someone called a Guardian ad Litem (GAL). The GAL is supposed to inform a potential ward of their rights. That’s something that never happened in Rodrick Gordon’s case because his GAL never found an interpreter to communicate with Gordon, who’s Deaf-Blind.

“Do you consider yourself incapacitated,” Catallo asked Gordon in a 2021 interview.

“No! Absolutely not,” said Gordon.

But the bills have powerful opponents. Three different probate judges, including the head of the Michigan Probate Judges Association, testified Thursday that they oppose the bills.

“I think the consequences of the legislation would be to reduce the number of professional guardians available to serve the community,” said Kent County Chief Probate Judge David Murkowski.

“The system is not supposed to be designed to protect the interests of judges, lawyers, and guardians. It’s supposed to serve and protect vulnerable adults,” said Teter.

In a press release, the Attorney General said the bills will also:

  • Require the court to make findings of fact if a person with priority for appointment, such as a family member, is passed over in favor of a professional guardian;
  • Establish a clear asset and income threshold above which the appointment of a conservator is required;
  • Require guardian and conservator letters of authority to expire after 15 months;
  • Clarify and expand the guardian ad litem’s responsibilities;
  • Improve protections for wards when professional guardians seek to remove them from their homes;
  • Require professional guardians to file petitions seeking court authority to move wards;
  • Require courts to appoint guardians ad litem or, where appropriate, counsel for wards and to schedule hearings before authorizing moves to new residences;
  • Improve basic standards for medical reports that are used in guardianship and conservatorship hearings;
  • Refine the process for emergency petitions for guardianship/ conservatorship to ensure an actual emergency exists; and more.
There will be another hearing Thursday, June 20, 2024. Family members who lost loved ones to professional guardians plan to testify at that hearing.

Full Article & Source:
Sparks fly in Lansing as probate judges push back on proposed guardianship reforms

Friday, June 14, 2024

Mom Had Lonely Death In Nursing Home As Guardianship Industry Kept Daughter Away

Genevieve and Mary Bush before the nightmare started

Mom Had Lonely Death In Nursing Home As Guardianship Industry Kept Daughter Away
 — This waking nightmare is in West Bradford, Chester County, Pa. and concerns Mary Bush and her mom, Genevieve.

The nightmare ended for Genevieve in 2021 when she died alone in Green Meadows Nursing Home in Paoli.

She had been kept in nursing homes since 2015 against her will since being declared incapacitated in 2011.

Genevieve’s husband and Mary’s father, Fabian, died in 2004. A money dispute between Genevieve and her sons led to her revoking their power of attorney in 2005.

Genevieve also sued the sons saying they wrongfully took money from the estate. Chester County Common Pleas Court Robert J. Shenkin, however, ruled for the sons saying the investments they used had been made in their name.

So she rewrote her will in 2007 giving what remained of the estate to Mary and created a trust naming Mary as trustee.

“They already got their inheritance,” Mary said her mom told her about the sons.

And what remained was a nice bit as the family Cape Cod sat on 15 acres of prime real estate.

Mary and Genevieve refurbished the Cape Cod making it a beautiful place in which Genevieve could live the remainder of her years.

In 2008, she gifted the house and land to Mary rather than putting it in the trust because she wanted to be sure Mary got it.

The sons next step was to seek guardianship and filed a petition for declaration for incapacity. They hired attorney Alexander Chotkowski and on Oct. 30, 2009 a constable served the paper.

This started a process that put Genevieve into a guardianship in June 2011 and  continued until Genevieve’s death in 2021.

While serving the paper constable kindly called the law firm of Reger, Rizzo and Darnall for a lawyer for Genevieve, who naively accepted.

The lawyer, Thomas K. Schindler, told Genevieve that she did not have to appear in person for any hearings despite the state code mandating that she do.

Judge Katherine B. L. Platt declared Genevieve to have Alzheimer’s disease. Mary says her mom was as sharp as anyone. She was still handling her own finances and maintaining the trust.

Judge Platt ruled that Mary and her younger brother be made guardians of the person while her older brother was made guardian of the estate, which meant he handled the money.

Judge Platt also ordered Mary to sign the house given as a gift back to her mother.

In 2013, Judge Platt removed Mary as guardian after a dispute with the younger brother and ordered her evicted from the house. She was replaced as co-guardian by an attorney who would soon quit. Two years later the younger brother was removed from his post after an incident, and Genevieve was taken from her long-time home to the county’s Pocopson Home.

The estate was charged $65,000 for her stay in Pocopson.

Mary found her neglected. She was sitting in her own waste and had visible injuries.

After complaints, Genevieve was moved to Park Lane at Bellingham in West Chester, which charged $14,000 per month.

This was in January 2016.

Mary wasn’t happy with Park Lane either and made complaints. The staff responded by banning Mary from seeing her mom, and told police to watch out for her if she arrived.

When Mary arrived Westtown-East Goshen Police were soon on the scene. They escorted her from the building, and one of the cops stuck his finger in her face.

“I heard about you,” he said. The cop slammed her to the ground and cuffed her. Mary was a 56-old-woman when this happened. Yes, she was injured. She was taken to the hospital.

The small upside is that she sued the police department and won.

However, it was 614 days before she saw her mom again.

“I counted them,” she said.

“She had no idea if I abandoned her or if I was dead or alive or nothing,” she said.

The visits came with conditions, though. It could only be at Adult Protective Services and a deputy sheriff had to be present. Also Mary had to pay for caregiver to sit with Genevieve in the van and Genevieve had to pay for the cost of the van.

And it could only be for one-hour a month.

Mary says her mom was a changed person. She was uncertain and sad.

Genevieve, however, recognized her and could carry on a conversation.

So much for the Alzheimer’s diagnosis, Judge Platt.

The visits stopped when the county authorities said Genevieve no longer had enough money to pay for the van.

This happened in August 2018. It was the last time Mary saw her mother.

Genevieve died June 16, 2021. It was 15 hours after the deed was secured by developers Cameron and Lauren Adams who brought the property for $480,000 cash.

That’s a refurbished Cape Cod on 15-acres in suburban Philadelphia for $480,000.

An autopsy was prohibited.

“My mom never got a funeral. The judge that was involved just threw her in the ground.”

Mary is still fighting. She is asking the orphan court to give the property back as she is the trustee and the trust has never been dissolved.

The attorney for the Adams is asking she be declared in contempt for the act and forced to pay legal fees.

The Adams have also filed charges of harassment and stalking against Mary because she has taken photos of the dumpsters full of things from house.

Mary is not backing down. She has become a national figure in exposing guardianship corruption even speaking at a Free Britney (Spears) event.

“I’m just so determined. As far I’m concerned they murdered my mom for money. For the last seven years, they kept me from Mom,” she said.

Here’s another view Mary Bush at #FreeBritney Los Angeles Sept 29, 2021 (

Full Article & Source:
Mom Had Lonely Death In Nursing Home As Guardianship Industry Kept Daughter Away

Probate Judge Keeps Napi’s Estate Documents Out of Public Eye

BARNSTABLE — A judge in Barnstable County Probate and Family Court denied a motion filed by Independent reporter Sam Pollak to unseal documents related to the guardianship and conservatorship of Helen Haunstrup, wife of the late Provincetown restaurateur Anton “Napi” Van Dereck, by Napi’s former financial adviser, Helen Haunstrup.

First Justice Susan Sard Tierney heard arguments from Pollak and lawyers representing McEneaney and Haunstrup on May 13.

On May 21, Tierney issued an impoundment order for the next 20 years. The order, which prevents the public from viewing documents related to Van Dereck’s $17-million estate until June 2044, emphasized Haunstrup’s privacy interests as cause for the impoundment.

Van Dereck died on Dec. 25, 2019, leaving his estate primarily to Haunstrup, who had been diagnosed with dementia the year before. A doctor declared her unfit to manage the estate in January 2020.

Tierney appointed McEneaney as Haunstrup’s conservator in November 2021. McEneaney is also in charge of carrying out Van Dereck’s estate plans and is the sole trustee of both the Van Dereck Trust and the Van Dereck Charitable Living Trust, which oversee the estate’s funds. (See related story.)

Judge Tierney first impounded the documents in 2021, shortly after appointing McEneaney as conservator. She did not issue a written impoundment order at that time — a violation of the state’s trial court rules on impoundment.

According to the Uniform Rules on Impoundment Procedure, the order “shall be entered on the docket, kept in the public file, and made available for public inspection. The order shall provide sufficient information for the public to identify the case caption, the case number, and to ascertain the grounds, duration, and scope of the impoundment.”

Judge Tierney’s 2024 decision includes the required public impoundment order.

In challenging the impoundment, Pollak appeared pro se and in his capacity as a reporter. Opposition to his motion was filed by attorneys Richard Novitch, who argued on behalf of McEneaney, and Robert Brown, Haunstrup’s court-appointed guardian ad litem, whose job is to protect her rights and act in her best interest.

At the May 13 hearing, Tierney ordered four members of the public and two reporters to leave the courtroom. Motions filed by Pollak, Novitch, and Brown before the hearing, however, were not impounded.

“After Napi’s death, the disposition of his estate and assets became of great interest to the community, especially the fate of the iconic restaurant and real estate which housed many of the restaurant’s employees,” Pollak’s motion stated.

Van Dereck owned several residential properties including a 12-unit complex at 25-27 Bradford St. frequently referred to as Napiville. Provincetown’s board of health is moving to place that property into court-ordered receivership to ensure that tenants there have safe and sanitary living conditions. In January, McEneaney sent letters to all tenants at the property telling them to leave by April 1, partly because the town’s orders to connect the property to the sewer system represent “an astronomical expense I am not authorized to make.”

Pollak’s motion argued that various entities have an interest in the impounded records. Napi had frequently told leaders of the Center for Coastal Studies, a nonprofit based in Provincetown, that it would benefit from his estate. Pollak also wrote that the town has an interest in the case because the estate has accrued $19,200 in fines from the Provincetown Health Dept. for violations of the state sanitary code, including hazardous electrical work and backed-up cesspools.

The impounded documents “are of legitimate public interest to a community that is experiencing an unfathomable housing crisis,” Pollak wrote.

Pollak also wrote that the impoundment has obscured the Van Derecks’ own wishes for the estate. “On information and belief, tenant evictions and sale of Napiville are inconsistent with Helen and Napi’s expressed wishes laid out in the Van Dereck Charitable Trust” documents, which are impounded, Pollak wrote.

McEneaney’s attorney, Richard Novitch of the Boston law firm Todd & Weld, and Haunstrup’s court-appointed lawyer, Robert Brown of the Falmouth law firm Brown & Barbosa, jointly signed their motion against unsealing the documents.

Their motion emphasized Haunstrup’s privacy, the “prurient desires” of the public, and Pollak’s financial self-interest.

“If what Mr. Pollack [sic] says is true, namely that Mrs. Haunstrup is indeed a ‘beloved member of the Provincetown community,’ he should be striving to protect, not expose for the public’s prurient desires, her personal, sensitive, and private information,” Novitch and Brown wrote.

They wrote that Pollak’s motivation was to “make money off of” the release of Van Dereck’s estate documents.

“Mr. Pollack [sic] also bleats about a purported ‘housing shortage,’ as if that is something Mrs. Haunstrup and her fiduciaries could, should or have any responsibility to attempt to cure. It isn’t,” the attorneys wrote.

Three households have moved out of Napiville since McEneaney’s eviction letters in January, but eight more units on the property are currently occupied and facing eviction, the Independent reported last month.

In her decision, Judge Tierney wrote that Haunstrup’s privacy interests outweigh the public’s right to view the documents.

“When a private individual is involved in a court matter, good cause for impoundment may be found when disclosure of the materials could lead to unreasonable interference with the right of privacy,” Tierney wrote in the impoundment order.

“The underlying cases concern the estate and property of Ms. Haunstrup and her financial interests, which the Court finds are inherently private matters,” the order continues.

The decision describes Haunstrup, who is 83, as incapacitated but also refers to her expressed wishes. A 2021 affidavit by Brown, written almost two years after Haunstrup had been declared unfit to make financial decisions and cited by both Novitch and Brown’s motion and Tierney’s May 2024 decision, describes “Ms. Haunstrup’s interest in keeping the bequests and beneficiaries of her will private and confidential, for various reasons.”

Tierney’s decision also notes that, when the documents were first impounded in 2021, “no opposition to the impoundment was asserted at that time.”

According to the uniform rules of impoundment procedure, any “party or interested nonparty” may “file a motion to modify or terminate an order of impoundment.”

“A proper challenge to the continued validity of an impoundment order” could still be raised by other parties even after Judge Tierney’s May 21 decision, according to state trial court rules.

Full Article & Source:
Probate Judge Keeps Napi’s Estate Documents Out of Public Eye

Thursday, June 13, 2024

Guardianship reform heads to Senate committee

By The Bharat Express News

June 12—LANSING — Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee will hear testimony on legislation aimed at reforming Michigan’s guardianship and conservatorship system.

Thursday’s hearing will be public and streamed live on the committee’s website.

In October, the state House passed a package of bipartisan bills that, if signed into law, would prioritize the wishes of vulnerable individuals, support their participation in relevant hearings, prohibit professional guardians from delegating decision-making to support staff and would create a new state office.

Advocates for the civil rights of older people have long said the system is flawed and doesn’t do enough to protect vulnerable people from fraud and abuse.

“Everyone knows it’s wrong, but no one’s going to do anything about it,” Matt Bush, a services coordinator at a senior apartment complex in Harbor Springs, said previously.

One resident, George Pappas, 97, was the victim of embezzlement by his court-appointed guardian, who made off with about $14,000 in Pappas’ savings and was later prosecuted.

Probate court judges appoint guardians to make medical and housing decisions, and conservators generally make financial decisions, once the court decides that a person can no longer manage their own affairs due to age, illness, or injury.

Family members and friends can fill this role, as can professional guardians. There are currently no regulations governing education, certification, or training, despite sometimes complex court filing requirements.

Elected officials have agreed for decades that reforms were needed, although data shows little substantive legislative action has been taken since the 1970s.

For example, in 1996 a Michigan Supreme Court task force studied child custody and in 1998 published eleven recommended initiatives, many of which mirror similar initiatives supported by Attorney General Dana Nessel’s own task force, which was created 23 years later in 2019 .

The Senate Committee on Civil Rights, Judiciary and Public Safety will hear testimony beginning at noon Thursday on four previously passed bills — HB 4909, HB 4910, HB 4911, HB 4912 — and on Senate Bill 656, which would change related financial obligations.

HB 5047, sponsored by Rep. Betsy Coffia, D-Traverse City, to create an office of state guardian, passed the House 74-35 in October and continues to be considered by lawmakers.

A state guardian office would issue professional licenses (not currently required), provide support and training, handle complaints, contract with guardians to serve indigent clients, and handle disciplinary proceedings.

The state in recent years has adopted a streamlined reporting form for incidents involving vulnerable adults, supported law enforcement training, and in 2022 passed the Financial Exploitation Prevention Act, which requires banks to have policies in place to identify and prevent elder fraud and report incidents to authorities report.

Full Article & Source:
Guardianship reform heads to Senate committee

Star high school athlete placed in guardianship after head injury faces possible deportation

$614,000 accident settlement has run out, family seeks resources for 24-hour care

A star high school athlete who moved to Florida from Haiti suffered a major head injury in an accident more than a decade ago. He ended up in guardianship and received a substantial financial settlement. But now his money has now run out, his guardian was removed from his case, and he faces an uncertain future.

by: Adam Walser

NAPLES, Fla. — Our ongoing series “The Price of Protection” usually focuses on how professional guardianship impacts vulnerable seniors, but the I-Team has learned how guardianship can affect people of all ages.

A star high school athlete who moved to Florida from Haiti suffered a major head injury in an accident more than a decade ago.

He ended up in guardianship and received a substantial financial settlement.

But now his money has now run out, his guardian was removed from his case, and he faces an uncertain future.

From star athlete to brain injury patient

34-year-old Wilkins Vilcin is the youngest resident of his assisted living facility in the Golden Gate community.

He wears diapers and needs help dressing, bathing, and completing daily tasks.

“He needs 24-hour care... an eye on him,” said his sister Fabiola Vilcin Borgelin.

Photo collages on his wall show better days, when Wilkins was a stand-out athlete at St. John Neumann Catholic High School in Naples.

“Run track, play football, run cross country,” Wilkins said, struggling to find words to describe his participation in high school sports.

Wilkins, his father, his brother, and three sisters moved from Haiti in the early 2000s and were granted temporary protected status, which provided a pathway for citizenship.

“He went to states for the track 4x4. He was on the football team. He was on the soccer team,” said Brian Ullrich.

Brian, now a nurse in California, is Wilkins’ former teammate who has kept in touch with him over the years.

Brian is the only classmate Wilkins remembers since suffering a traumatic brain injury.

Wilkins and Brian Ullrich

“It was our homecoming dance, 2010. He was a senior,” Brian said. “There was a flip at the dance that he had done and got over-rotated and landed on the back of his head.”

“He was just having a fun night, and out of nowhere, it changed his life,” Fabiola said.

Wilkins was rushed to the hospital, where he spent weeks in intensive care and months in recovery.

“Eventually, he's starting rehab in the hospital. He can walk again. He can sit up in the chair. We threw a birthday party for him,” Brian said.

He said it was one of the most tragic things he remembers as a teenager.

“It was just unbelievable. You don't know, you know, until you have someone you know go through something like that,” Brian said.

Guardian appointed to manage funds and care

Wilkins was declared incapacitated in 2011, and Kathy Johnson was appointed as his professional guardian, overseeing his care and managing his money.

That included $614,000 from legal settlements related to the accident.

Fabiola says Johnson rarely communicated and didn’t call when he had COVID or was hospitalized for a seizure.

Under the state’s guardianship law, the guardian is not required to provide that type of information to wards’ family members.

“I’ve never met her. I've never seen her. Every time when I ask to see her, there’s always an excuse,” Fabiola said.

Johnson also moved Wilkins between facilities without telling them.

That is also allowed in Florida, although guardians are required to notify the court when they move a ward under state law.

“We just go see Wilkins, and he’s not there,” Fabiola said.

Fabiola Vilcin Borgelin

Brian had the same experience last Thanksgiving.

“Wilkins was moved. We can’t tell you where he’s at because you’re not the legal guardian,” Brian said.

Brian tracked down the guardian, and she told him Wilkins only had $4,000 left.

“He’s going to end up on the street”

“That’s kind of barely going to get us through December. We really need to figure something out, you know, because he can't see stay in the house anymore. We're going to get evicted,” Brian said Johnson told him.

“She told me his money runs out. That if he has nowhere to go, he’s going to end up on the street,” Fabiola said.

“Are we looking at going back to Haiti and in a time where we've got massive issues going on with gang warfare and all this stuff?” Brian said.

In August 2022, more than a decade into the guardianship, Johnson asked the court to move Wilkins’ remaining $158,900 into a pooled trust, telling the judge that would enable her to try to qualify him for government benefits.

But Johnson never managed to get Wilkins a Green Card, which would allow him to qualify for certain benefits.

16 months later, Johnson petitioned the court to resign, saying Wilkins no longer had any money and she feared she would be held liable for his expenses.

Guardian removed from cases

In late February, Circuit Court Judge Elizabeth Krier, who appointed Johnson, removed her from all her Collier County cases.

That followed a scathing audit alleging missing money, lost records, and hacked bank accounts.

“At best, this is mismanagement. At worst, it’s something more,” Krier said at the time.

We questioned Johnson about those cases at the hearing, but she declined to comment.

Records show Johnson billed Wilkins $48,000 for her services during Wilkins’ guardianship.

That included a bill for $500 the month before she told his sister he was running out of money.

Currently, there is no money to pay for Wilkins’ care.

“It’s almost $4,000 just to stay here,” Fabiola said.

A new emergency temporary guardian appointed in February is contacting state and federal authorities, trying to get Wilkins a Green Card so he can qualify for health insurance and other benefits.

The family says Johnson took his birth certificate and other documents and never gave them back.

“We're trying to take him back. So that’s the plan... for us to take him back,” Fabiola said.

Brian, his family and Wilkins’ classmates are also helping out.

Emergency fund established

They have worked with a volunteer attorney to set up the Wilkins Vilcin Special Needs Trust.

Donations are being coordinated by Wilkins’ former school... they can be mailed to St. John Neumann High School, 3500 53rd ST SW, Naples, FL 34116.

For more information about the trust, you can email the organizers at

Wilkins doesn’t understand what’s going on, but his friends and family see a broken system that failed to protect one of the most vulnerable people in its care.

“I can certainly work. I can certainly come up with some money to help him a little bit along. But this is this is the tiniest of Band-Aids on such a massive problem,” Brian said.

We contacted Kathy Johnson and her attorney for this story, but we have not heard back.

The most recent court filing in Wilkins’ case indicates the Florida Department of Children and Families is investigating.

Full Article & Source:
Star high school athlete placed in guardianship after head injury faces possible deportation

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Carol Burnett’s Estranged Daughter Reunites With Son 8 Months After Being Stripped of Visitation

by Ryan Naumann

Carol Burnett’s estranged daughter, Erin Hamilton, saw her son Dylan for the first time in nearly a year — after a judge suspended her visitation with the teen — and In Touch has exclusive photos of the reunion.

Erin exclusively tells In Touch she had lunch with Dylan over the weekend— who graduated from high school on Friday.

In August 2023, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge cut Erin’s ability to contact Dylan after she was accused of violating a court order.

Carol, 91, filed to be named co guardian of Dylan in 2020 with her husband, Brian Miller. She claimed Erin was not a fit parent due to her addiction issues.

Carol Burnett s Estranged Daughter Reunited With Son After X Months

“In the past 19 years, Erin has been in and out of rehabilitation centers and has been institutionalized a total of eight times for a minimum of 30 days each time,” the entertainer’s petition revealed. The court signed off on Carol and Brian’s petition. The duo then appointed a third party named Jodi Montgomery, who worked on Britney Spears’ conservatorship, to take over as guardian.

As part of the guardianship, Erin was allowed visitations with her son. Last year, the court-appointed lawyer for Dylan accused Erin of breaking the rules by “accidently” running into Dylan while he was out with his father. The lawyer asked the judge to suspend Erin’s visitation due to her “erratic and unpredictable conduct.”

The judge signed off on the request and set a hearing for early 2024 for Erin to make her case for visitation to be reinstated. The hearing was then postponed till September. Following the postponement, Erin’s lawyer pleaded for the matter to be heard immediately and not months down the road. Carol’s daughter said she was sober and desperately wanted to see her son before he left California for college on the east coast. She asked for permission to attend his graduation.

“I am hardly a danger to my child. I have been drug/alcohol tested consistently since moving back from Hawaii and I work with people in treatment and I must remain completely sober in order to keep my job. I love my job and I love being sober,” she said.

“I miss my son terribly, and I feel that this is a punitive situation brought on by people trying to keep me away from my son until he moves out of state. There has been no attempt from my family members involved in this court case to get to know who I am today. I am not the same person that I was,” she added.

Carol Burnett s Estranged Daughter Reunited With Son After X Months

Erin added, “I have a sponsor in AA and I also sponsor three women. I am an active member in this 12-step program and I take my sobriety seriously.”

Despite her emotional plea, the judge shut down Erin’s request to attend Dylan’s graduation. However, as In Touch first reported, weeks later, Dylan’s guardian Jodi agreed to allow Erin a 1-hour lunch date with Dylan following his graduation.

“If all goes well with the visitation then, in the Guardian’s sole and absolute discretion after consulting with [Dylan], [Dylan’s] counsel, the monitor, among others if needed, further visitations can be scheduled before [Dylan] leaves California for college,” Jodi said in her filing.

No decision has been made on Erin's visitation being fully reinstated.

Full Article & Source:
Carol Burnett’s Estranged Daughter Reunites With Son 8 Months After Being Stripped of Visitation

See Also:
Comedian Carol Burnett’s Estranged Daughter Scores Small Victory in Fight to Regain Visitation of Son

‘Flagrantly Violated’: Lawyer Fighting Carol Burnett’s Daughter Erin’s Plea for Visitation With Son Despite Claims of Sobriety

Carol Burnett’s Daughter Accuses Comedian of Refusing to ‘Get to Know Who I Am Today,’ Icing Her Out Despite Being Sober

Former Spears Figure Named Permanent Guardian for Carol Burnett's Grandson

Carol Burnett,Husband Nominate Key Spears Figure for Temporary Guardianship

Mother, daughter 'caregivers' charged with exploiting, neglecting 87-year-old woman


Anntoinette Deloris Woods (left) and her daughter, Sharanda Patrice Coach, were both charged with exploitation of an elderly person or disabled adult, organized scheme to defraud, neglect of an elderly person or disabled adult, and abuse of an elderly person, June 6, 2024. (Miami-Dade Corrections)

HIALEAH, Fla. (TND) — A mother and daughter in Florida who were supposed to be caregivers are charged with the alleged exploitation and neglect of an 87-year-old woman.

The investigation started after Hialeah police conducted a welfare check at the house where the victim has lived since 1959.

The state attorney’s office said neighbors became concerned because they hadn’t “seen the victim for some time” and they noticed “strange activities” at her house, such as her “furniture and possessions put out onto the street for disposal.”

Inside, on April 30, police reported seeing a “small, cluttered bedroom” that didn’t have a bed. Instead, there was “a disassembled bed frame and no mattress,” so the victim had to sleep in a recliner.

There were also “large black garbage bags filled with unknown items strewn about, and a folded walker and wheelchair out of the victim’s reach,” and authorities said the hallway “to the bathroom was obstructed by clothing, shoes, and plastic bags, which would have prevented her from safely accessing the bathroom had she been able to use her wheelchair.”

Police said they called paramedics to take the victim to the hospital when they saw her “appearance and mental state.”

She had a contusion on the right side of her forehead, they said, “and a pronounced bruise on the right side of her face, displaying green, purple, and yellow colors.

“When asked how she sustained the injury to her head, the victim thinks she probably fell but did not go to the hospital to have the injury examined.”

Plus, “The victim appeared to have limited mobility in her right arm and was unable to lift it.
“She also had a large cut on her left forearm, and her right wrist seemed contracted.”
Then, at the hospital, they learned the victim “had fractures in her right arm [and] bruising on her right hand, chest, right arm, the right side of her face and eye, and her neck.
“Both lower legs had multiple small scrapes, with the skin on both legs appearing red and warm, indicating an infection.

“There was a skin breakdown on her lower back.

“Medical staff opined that the nature and extent of these injuries suggested that they were not solely the result of a recent fall.”

They later learned “the victim was suffering from malnutrition and her pacemaker needed new batteries.

“It should be noted that evaluating a pacemaker for battery replacement is a routine check done when a person receives regular and proper medical care, indicating that the victim has not seen a cardiologist for a significant amount of time.”

The victim also reportedly complained about the lack of care she got from Anntoinette Deloris Woods and her daughter Sharanda Patrice Coach, who were both arrested Thursday.

“The victim described experiencing pain, hardness, and swelling in her legs,” prosecutors said, “and indicated that she had expressed to Woods and Coach the urgent need to see a doctor, but they dismissed her.

“She described her legs as being so swollen that she feared they would explode.
“They repeatedly insisted she did not require medical attention and that nothing was wrong with her.
“The victim further recounted feeling disbelieved and called a liar whenever she expressed being in pain to Woods and Coach.
“The victim further disclosed that she often was left alone at home during the daytime.

“When asked who prepared her meals, she revealed that she typically received Wendy’s burgers and other fast food and that she usually had just one meal a day, sometimes two.”

Police said Woods told them she met the victim at the medical office where she worked, and the victim asked her to help care for her disabled adult son, who died in 2022. Then, she and several family members moved into the victim’s home.

Woods, 49, and Coach, 32, each face four felonies: exploitation of an elderly person or disabled adult, organized scheme to defraud, neglect of an elderly person or disabled adult, and abuse of an elderly person.

Woods’ bail was set at $72,500, and Coach had been released on bond, by Monday.

Full Article & Source:
Mother, daughter 'caregivers' charged with exploiting, neglecting 87-year-old woman

AARP Virginia warns of elder financial exploitation

By Citizen Staff

In recognition of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15, the AARP of Virginia is urging seniors and their caregivers to be aware of potential scams and elder financial exploitation.

The multi-billion-dollar problem of elder financial exploitation and reminds the public that it’s a crime that can have devastating consequences for individuals and families.

According to the AARP, elder financial exploitation – generally involving a known person who is deceiving and manipulating an older adult to steal from them – is a multi-billion dollar, and often unreported, crime.

AARP Virginia officials advise that one way to prevent elder financial exploitation is to encourage a loved one to designate someone they trust to help them with financial decisions. The federal government’s Eldercare Locator can help seniors find free or low-cost legal assistance if they need it.

AARP officials also are warning that seniors be wary of anyone who discourages contact with family and friends, exerts pressure on financial decisions, or asks for large sums of money. Financial exploitation is a crime and should be reported to Henrico Police at (804) 501-5000 or by calling 911 if the target is in immediate danger.

Full Article & Source:
AARP Virginia warns of elder financial exploitation

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Arrest made for kidnapping and elder abuse in South San Francisco

Police responded to an apartment complex on Linden Avenue after a woman called for help on June 6, 2024.

Officers determined a 70-year-old resident was threatened with a knife and held against her will by her grandson, 30-year-old Miguel Gutierrez, of South San Francisco. During initial negotiations, Gutierrez forced the victim back into the apartment and barricaded the door, prompting a response from NCR SWAT and the Crisis Negotiating Team (CNT).

CNT negotiated with Gutierrez for approximately six hours, attempting to de-escalate the situation and secure the victim's safe release. As negotiations stalled and concerns for the victim's welfare grew, SWAT personnel conducted a high-risk hostage rescue shortly after midnight. The victim was safely rescued, and Gutierrez was taken into custody without injuries.

Gutierrez was booked into the Maguire Correctional Facility on charges of kidnapping, assault with a deadly weapon, false imprisonment, elder abuse, and brandishing a weapon.

A statement from the South San Francisco Police Department read, "A big THANK YOU to our dispatchers, patrol officers, NCR SWAT/CNT teams, and neighboring law enforcement agencies for a safe ending to a highly dangerous situation."

Full Article & Source:
Arrest made for kidnapping and elder abuse in South San Francisco

Can a Professional Guardian Delegate Their Decision-making Powers to an Employee?

Written by: Warner Norcross + Judd

Yes, as recently decided by the Michigan Supreme Court, but only if the professional guardian first executes a specific type of power of attorney document delegating authority to the employee to exercise such powers. This opinion relates to two cases: In re Guardianship of Malloy and In re Guardianship of Jenkins, Michigan Supreme Court, issued May 28, 2024 (Docket Nos. 165018, 165020) (for publication).

The facts of these cases involved billing disputes between a professional guardian and an insurance company. The same professional guardian was appointed for Dana Jenkins and Mary Malloy — both suffered serious injuries in a car accident, and both were insured by the same company. The professional guardian sought reimbursement from the insurer for guardian services performed by the guardian and the guardian’s employees. The insurance company declined to reimburse for the services of the guardian’s employees, and the guardian filed two lawsuits against them.

The Michigan Supreme Court agreed to hear these cases because of the thousands of people in Michigan who have a professional guardian.

The court held that a guardian must execute a power of attorney to delegate any decision-making powers the guardian is granted under MCL 700.5314, which includes handling of the ward’s money and medical care, establishing a residence, participating in legal proceedings, as well as an act that “alters or impairs the rights, duties, liabilities, or legal relations of the incapacitated individual.”

The court held that the power of attorney document delegating a guardian’s authority must comply with MCL 700.5103, which requires the delegation not last longer than 180 days and requires the guardian to notify the court within seven days of the delegation and provide all the contact information for the appointed agent.

However, if the employee is merely assisting the professional guardian with their powers or duties, then a power of attorney is not necessary. Stated another way, unless the professional guardian delegates the guardian’s powers through a power of attorney, the decision affecting the ward must be made by the guardian.

Full Article & Source:
Can a Professional Guardian Delegate Their Decision-making Powers to an Employee?

Monday, June 10, 2024

NYC woman, 93, left with no money despite owning a 10-unit Brooklyn building, family claims

Story by Kathianne Boniello

A Brooklyn immigrant’s $4 million nest egg is off-limits when she needs it most during her final years because of ineffective court-appointed guardians, her family contends.

Aleksandra Chodowiec, 93, arrived in the U.S. from her native Wroclaw in western Poland by herself in 1973 at the age of 43. She worked two jobs, in an envelope factory and cleaning Manhattan offices.

In just two years, the industrious Chodowiec saved enough dough to purchase what should have been a golden ticket: a five-story rental building with eight apartments and two commercial units in Greenpoint.

“She escaped from communism, which she hated,” said her son-in-law, Andrzej Szymanik. “She came to New York because she always wanted to come to America and fulfill her American dream – which she did!”

Chodowiec plunked down an $8,000 down payment on the Java Street building. 

The $70,000 investment is now worth more than $4 million, court records show.

But now Chodowiec suffers from dementia, and the income from her lucrative property that could pay the constant care she needs is nowhere to be found, her relatives charge.

The elder woman’s affairs became subject to a state guardianship proceeding in 2018, after a family dispute erupted over Chodowiec’s care, records show.

Property guardian William Ellerton was eventually appointed by a Brooklyn judge to oversee the Java Street building, where Eva and Andrzej control one of the commercial units and other relatives live in some of the apartments. 

Ellerton, who was paid $25,000 in 2020 for “temporary” work on the case before he was appointed as property guardian, has a range of powers authorized by the court, including paying for Chodowiec’s home health aides; charging fair market rent for the Java Street apartments, and establishing a budget.

It’s unclear how much Ellerton is paid to oversee the case.

But Szymanik, 71, contends that after years of oversight Ellerton has failed to rent out the units, and takes months to reimburse him and Eva for Chodowiec’s expenses — even her adult diapers.

One two-bedroom unit could rent for $3,000 to $4,000 a month, according to court papers. The building used to generate $100,000 income annually, claimed Szymanik.

He claims Ellerton has ignored prospective tenants who want to rent spaces, including a local baker interested in one of the commercial units.

“He wanted to rent it and he called many, many times and got no response,” Szymanik contended. 


The building needs substantial renovation, Ellerton told The Post.

“To produce income on an apartment, I’d think you have to fix it up,” he said, noting one of the available units was occupied by a rent-controlled tenant who died after more than three decades there, leaving it in dire need of repair.

Ellerton said he’s been waiting months for a judge to approve his requests to work with a real estate attorney and broker to determine the future of the building and that the family is opposed to selling the property.

“Among other things, I asked was for the court to address various issues including whether it should be sold,” he said, adding that the Szymaniks don’t pay rent on the commercial unit they occupy.

Full Article & Source:
NYC woman, 93, left with no money despite owning a 10-unit Brooklyn building, family claims

Strandquist, Minnesota, woman accused of financially exploiting her mother

Peggy Ann Omdahl, along with her significant other Jeffrey Lars McHam, are accused of misusing in excess of $275,000.


MARSHALL COUNTY, Minn. — A Strandquist, Minnesota, woman has been accused of financially exploiting her elderly mother, to whom she was assigned financial power of attorney more than a decade ago, in excess of $275,000.

Peggy Ann Omdahl, 69, is charged with financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult, breaching fiduciary obligation and failing to provide care.

The felony charge has a maximum 20-year sentence.

Omdahl's significant other, Jeffrey Lars McHam, is facing the same charge.

Omdahl's first appearance took place on Tuesday morning, June 4, during which she was released with no bonds or conditions. McHam's first appearance was rescheduled for 9 a.m. June 18.

On Nov. 13, Marshall County Social Services and the Marshall County Sheriff's Office received a vulnerable adult report alleging Omdahl and McHam financially exploited her mother, according to a probable cause statement filed in the case.

Omdahl has financial power of attorney for her mother, a role established in 2011.

In November 2022, Omdahl's mother entered a nursing home. As of Feb. 1 of this year, Omdahl had only made four payments to the home, and her mother owed $140,504.72, the statement said.

While investigating Omdahl's mother's finances, social services learned a total of $115,038.70 in checks were written to her daughter, the statement said. Additionally, $10,000 checks were written to McHam and a total of $160,061.81 were payments to a Capital One card.

In December 2019, Omdahl's mother had $119,412.18 in her account. By Jan. 12 of this year, her balance was $3,062.17.

Omdahl met with law enforcement and a social worker in January. She allegedly insisted she didn't spend any of her mother's money on herself, and all the expenses benefited her mother.

Omdahl said the $160,061.81 in Capital One credit card payments was used repairs on her mother's home, in the event that she may move back in, the statement said.

Full Article & Source:
Strandquist, Minnesota, woman accused of financially exploiting her mother

Dog runs four miles to get help for owner who crashed car into Oregon ravine

Brandon Garrett was driving solo with his four dogs near where his family was camping, when he failed to navigate a turn

by Gloria Oladipo

A dog ran four miles to get help for his owner who crashed his car into a ravine in Oregon – and was ultimately rescued because of the animal’s heroics, according to authorities.

The case unfolded as Brandon Garrett was driving with his four dogs north on US Forest Service Road 39 in Baker county, near where his family was camping.

During the trip, Garrett failed to navigate a curve in the road and crashed over an embankment, according to a statement from the Baker county sheriff’s office.

Garrett survived the crash, but the accident left him stranded and forced him to wait – and hope – for help.

Thankfully for him, one of his dogs ran back to the campsite, and the animal’s appearance led the Garrett’s family to realize something had gone wrong. The dog ended up running nearly four miles through the wilderness before tracking down the other campers on 3 June at 9.30am.

The family quickly began searching for Garrett and eventually spotted his car. But they were unable to reach him because of the difficult terrain, prompting them to call emergency rescuers for help.

“The reporting party explained that his brother, Brandon Garrett, had not made it to his camp yesterday afternoon. Family members located his vehicle this morning but were unable to reach it due to the terrain,” the statement from the sheriff’s office said.

First responders managed to reach Garrett by using chainsaws to make a path. They then used a rescue blanket and rope to retrieve Garrett from the ravine.

Garrett was found about 100 yards from where the accident occurred with his three other dogs, who were also alive.

Authorities provided Garrett first aid on the scene. He was later driven in an ambulance to a helicopter that flew him to a hospital in the area.

Details about the extent of Garrett’s injuries or his medical condition were not immediately released.

Full Article & Source:
Dog runs four miles to get help for owner who crashed car into Oregon ravine

Sunday, June 9, 2024

75 years later, a D-Day veteran meets with his French love again - France 2

 Before coming to France for the D-Day commemorations this year, K.T. Robbins, a 98-year-old veteran, had one wish: meet with his French love again. He'd met her during the war, in 1944, in a small town in Eastern France. All these years, he kept her picture, and the memory of her name. Jeannine Ganaye. We were able to find this woman, and to organize their reunion. 

A very special thanks to both of their families, Diane Hight from Forever Young who first told us about the great story of K.T. Robbins, and the retirement residence of Sainte Famille (Montigny-les-Metz). 

Team: Agn├Ęs Vahramian, Thomas Donzel, Maryse Burgot, Pauline Juvigny, Charlotte Mattout. English voice-over: Rebecca Suner.

75 years later, a D-Day veteran meets with his French love again - France 2

Plaintiffs Accuse TriState Capital Bank of Financial Exploitation and Fraud

By Cook County Record

In a recent court filing, John and Peggy Thodos, along with the Peggy A. Thodos 2014 Irrevocable Trust, have lodged a complaint against TriState Capital Bank alleging financial exploitation of the elderly, common law fraud, and unjust enrichment. The complaint was filed by attorney Robert T. Hanlon in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois on May 27, 2024.

The plaintiffs, residents of Florida, accuse TriState Capital Bank, headquartered in Pennsylvania, of orchestrating a fraudulent scheme that led to significant financial losses. According to the complaint, John and Peggy Thodos had accumulated substantial wealth over their lifetimes and entrusted financial advisor Richard Ceffalio with managing their investments through LPL Financial LLC. However, it is alleged that Ceffalio engaged in unauthorized financial activities that resulted in over $10 million missing from the Peggy A. Thodos 2014 Irrevocable Trust.

Central to the case is a purported Credit Pledge and Security Agreement allegedly signed by John Thodos, Peggy Thodos, and Alexis Thodos. The agreement involved advances exceeding $3.5 million from TriState Capital Bank. The plaintiffs claim they never authorized this agreement and assert that their signatures were forged. They further allege that TriState is now seeking repayment of $3,530,379.93 based on this fraudulent document.

The plaintiffs began investigating these irregularities in March 2024 when they discovered discrepancies in their accounts managed by Ceffalio. Despite repeated inquiries about missing statements and funds totaling over $10 million, Ceffalio provided unsatisfactory explanations such as claiming he had to destroy statements by law.

The lawsuit also highlights how Ceffalio conducted business using encrypted communication platforms like WhatsApp and personal email accounts instead of official business channels. This behavior raised further suspicions about his activities.

The plaintiffs are seeking several forms of relief from the court including a preliminary injunction to prevent TriState from seizing any assets associated with the trust based on the disputed agreement. They are also demanding compensatory damages amounting to $3,530,379.93 as well as treble damages totaling $10,591,139.80 under Illinois’s Financial Exploitation of the Elderly Act (720 ILCS 5/17-56). Additionally, they seek reasonable attorney fees and court costs.

Attorney Robert T. Hanlon represents the plaintiffs while Judge [Name] presides over Case No.: 24-cv-4322.

Full Article & Source:
Plaintiffs Accuse TriState Capital Bank of Financial Exploitation and Fraud

Mom and daughter arrested in abusive exploitation of 87-year-old Hialeah woman

Anntoinette Deloris Woods, 49, and her 32-year-old daughter, Sharanda Patrice Coach, were arrested Thursday on charges including exploitation of an elderly person, organized scheme to defraud, neglect of an elderly person and abuse of an elderly person, the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office said

By Jamie Guirola and Brian Hamacher 

A mother and daughter have been arrested in what authorities called an abusive exploitation of an 87-year-old Hialeah woman.

Anntoinette Deloris Woods, 49, and her 32-year-old daughter, Sharanda Patrice Coach, were arrested Thursday on charges including exploitation of an elderly person, organized scheme to defraud, neglect of an elderly person and abuse of an elderly person, the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office said.

Miami-Dade Corrections
Anntoinette Deloris Woods and Sharanda Patrice Coach

Authorities said the victim had lived at her Hialeah home since moving from Tennessee with her husband and disabled son in 1959.

Neighbors grew concerned after not seeing the woman for some time and after observing "strange activities" at the home, including seeing the woman's possessions put out at the street for disposal, officials said.

The neighbors reported their concerns to Hialeah Police and on April 30, officers conducted a welfare check at the home.

The officers encountered Woods, who told them she was the woman's caregiver, and presented power of attorney and medical proxy documents for the woman, authorities said.

Woods told investigators she'd met the elderly woman at the medical office where she worked and that the elderly woman asked her to assist in caring for her disabled adult son, who died in February 2022.

After the son's death, Woods said she assumed the role of caretaker for the woman and moved into the home along with several of Woods' family members, authorities said.

Woods also told police the elderly woman was living with Woods at her Miami apartment and had been since August 2023.

When police paid a visit to the apartment in Miami's Overtown neighborhood, they encountered Coach and the elderly woman, who said Coach took care of her at the apartment.

But police found the elderly woman's living conditions were unacceptable, with her living in a room without a bed, forcing her to sleep in a recliner, authorities said.

The room was small and cluttered with various items including a disassembled bed frame, large black garbage bags filled with unknown items, and a folded walker and wheelchair out of the elderly woman's reach. authorities said.

"She was in a room, there was no bed, she was in a recliner, which by all apparent evidence is where she slept and unfortunately couldn’t get to the bathroom. She didn't have a walker to get to the bathroom," Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said.

The woman was also found to have bruises on her face, a large cut on her forearm, and apparent wrist and arm injuries.

She was taken to a hospital where it was discovered she had fractures in her right arm, and red and warm skin on her legs, indicating an infection, authorities said.

Woods said the fractures came from a fall in the bathroom, but medical staff said the injuries suggested they were not just the result of a fall, authorities said.

It was also determined that the woman was suffering from malnutrition and that her pacemaker needed new batteries, indicating she hadn't seen a cardiologist for a significant amount of time, officials said.

"She had some fractures, he had some hematomas, she was malnourished. She wasn’t receiving the nutrition that she needed and very importantly, she was on a pacemaker and the battery needed to be replaced," Fernandez Rundle said.

The woman told investigators she had pain and swelling in her legs that was so bad she feared they would explode, but said when she told Woods and Coach about her urgent need to see a doctor, they dismissed her and insisted she didn't need medical attention, authorities said.

She added that she was often left alone at home during the day and was typically fed Wendy's burgers and other fast food but usually had just one meal per day, officials said.

Woods and Coach were booked into jail. Both later appeared in court where Woods' bond was set at $72,500 and Couch's bond was set at $62,500.

"Imagine, everything this woman worked for all her life, her home, all her belongings, were dumped on the side of the street in a large pile. Everything she knew and cared about and worked so hard for was out on the street," Fernandez Rundle said.

Full Article & Source:
Mom and daughter arrested in abusive exploitation of 87-year-old Hialeah woman