Saturday, July 6, 2024

Declining to pay, Charleston Probate Judge Irv Condon balks at debt, instead hires attorney

By David Slade

A county audit concluded that Charleston County Probate Judge Irv Condon and his office improperly used county-issued charge cards. County Council decided on May 7 that Condon should personally repay $11,341.54. Nearly two months later, the money hadn't been paid and Condon had hired a lawyer.

Nearly two months after being told to reimburse Charleston County $11,342 in unauthorized expenses, Probate Judge Irv Condon has instead hired a lawyer.

The move comes after a county audit flagged more than 18 percent of the county charge-card purchases made by his office as questionable from late 2021 through early 2024.

Most of the questioned spending was for office-related expenses that had not been approved, such as food, gift cards and employee appreciation.

County officials said the unauthorized spending had been a repeated and years-long problem with the elected Republican judge, and took the unusual step of ordering him to personally repay most of the charges. 

At a May 7 County Council meeting where the issues came to a head, Condon conceded that his office hadn't followed procedures involving county charge cards, and said he regretted that. The council ordered him to personally repay $11,342, but did not set a deadline.

"We sent him an invoice, to remind him what it was and remind him that he owed it," Council Chairman Herb Sass said. "We haven’t heard from him."

Nearly two months later during the first week of July, Charleston lawyer Ronald Richter responded on Condon's behalf to several days of text messages from The Post and Courier seeking comment.

"A full response to the county’s concerns is forthcoming," said Richter, who has been retained by Condon.

Members of County Council want to see the debt settled.

"Our only concern at this point is that he pays the money he owes," Councilwoman Jenny Honeycutt said July 3.

Honeycutt, a lawyer who in May proposed the motion to have Condon repay the more than $11,000 back, said she thought "we were past wrangling over the facts of what happened." 

"The rules are the rules, and they apply to everybody," she added. "If you need pre-approval for a luncheon, get pre-approval and don’t make everyone uncomfortable."

Richter said there doesn't seem to be a precedent for the county to demand repayment "for expenditures that are clearly in the scope of his services."

He also alleged that "retaliatory budget cuts" were made by the county, amounting to $240,000 Condon had requested in the court's budget.

"I know that services were cut that we believe are essential services of the Probate Court," he said.

According to Charleston County, the Probate Court's total budget actually increased by $240,000. The county did reject a number of line items Condon had requested, including $70,000 for a "community outreach vehicle" and increased funding for meetings, training events and employee recognition.

"You can’t have everything you ask for," said Honeycutt.

Some of the budget items the county eliminated were for the same sorts of expenses Condon had been paying for with county charge cards without approval, according to the audit and county officials.

For example, the Probate Court’s Estates Division had a $2,500 budget line for meeting expenses this year, but hadn't spent any of that money when budget talks began. Condon requested $15,000 for the coming year, but the county’s budget includes zero dollars.

In the same division, Condon requested $1,800 for employee recognition — $1,300 more than the current year — but the county’s pending budget includes no money.

“Because of his recent history, he maybe didn’t get some of the things he wanted,” said Sass. “We’re not being heavy-handed.”

In the Probate Court’s Commitment Division, Condon asked for more than four times the amount budgeted for the current year for meeting expenses; instead the county budgeted nothing. The county budget also zeros out meeting expense money for Adult Drug Court, and training and conference funding for both Mental Health Court and Probate Veterans Court.

Overall, funding for the Probate Court increased from $3.7 million to $3.94 million in the county budget.

The dispute has not involved partisan rivalry because the majority of County Council members, including Sass and Honeycutt, are Republican elected officials, as is Condon.

"I don’t want to embarrass him, but he needs to go ahead and pay the damn bill," Sass said.

Full Article & Source:
Declining to pay, Charleston Probate Judge Irv Condon balks at debt, instead hires attorney

Plaintiff accuses skilled nursing facility operator of elder abuse

By Northern California Record

A recent court filing reveals a harrowing account of alleged elder abuse and negligence at a Sacramento-based skilled nursing facility. On June 26, 2024, attorney Michael J. Farley filed a complaint in the Superior Court of California for the County of Sacramento against S.H.C.C. Inc., doing business as Sherwood Healthcare Center, and Maltique LLC.

The plaintiff, John Darden, alleges that after undergoing hip replacement surgery on June 29, 2022, he was transferred to Sherwood Healthcare Center for post-operative care. During his stay from July 4 to July 11, 2022, Darden claims he suffered severe mistreatment and neglect. According to the complaint, a certified nursing assistant at Sherwood recklessly mishandled Darden's leg during a routine repositioning exercise, causing a periprosthetic fracture in his newly replaced hip. "The Plaintiff heard the sound of a snap or crack and immediately cried out in pain," states the document.

Darden further alleges that despite his continuous complaints of pain following this incident, the staff at Sherwood failed to properly assess or treat his condition. Instead, they allegedly continued to administer Tylenol and prescription pain medications without investigating the cause of his discomfort. It wasn't until July 11 that medical personnel removed his PICO dressing and noted significant issues with his surgical site. He was then readmitted to Sutter Memorial Hospital where a CT scan confirmed the fracture.

The lawsuit accuses Sherwood Healthcare Center and Maltique LLC of elder abuse under Welfare & Institutions Code §15600 et seq., negligent hiring, training & supervision, and violation of patient rights under Health & Safety Code §1430(b). The plaintiff argues that these actions constitute "reckless neglect" and claims that Sherwood's management prioritized profit over patient care by employing insufficiently trained staff.

Darden is seeking compensatory damages for medical expenses exceeding $1 million, punitive damages for alleged reckless conduct by the defendants, attorneys' fees under Welfare & Institutions Code §15657(a), and statutory penalties for each violation of patient rights as stipulated by Health & Safety Code §1430(b).

Representing John Darden is attorney Michael J. Farley from Sacramento. The case has been assigned Case No. Ace WOTSsone in front of Judge [Name]. The defendants are yet to respond formally to these allegations.

Full Article & Source:
Plaintiff accuses skilled nursing facility operator of elder abuse

State Offers Medicaid Funding to Nursing Homes for Private Rooms

By Amy Stulick

Nursing homes in Ohio will soon receive financial incentives for each additional private room they offer, thanks to a proposal recently greenlit by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

The initiative, set to launch in the coming months, was developed by the Ohio Department of Medicaid and revises the reimbursement structure for Medicaid-funded nursing home rooms, according to a report from the Scioto Valley Guardian. It’s a significant step toward the state’s goal of offering a private room option to every nursing home resident.

Operators that decide to convert multi-resident rooms into private spaces, or add private rooms through new construction projects will receive additional Medicaid funding. If facilities offer private rooms with private bathrooms, they’ll receive $30 more per day while those with shared bathrooms will receive $20 more per day.

There has been movement toward private rooms at the national level as well, with the Biden Administration’s reform initiatives including a call for reduced room crowding in nursing homes. But, there hasn’t been much discussion around this aspect of the reform since it was unveiled in 2022.

Other states like Massachusetts already have mandated initiatives to de-densify nursing home rooms, offering bed buyback programs to help supplement the cost, but it wasn’t significant enough to offset financial losses. Thirty-one providers in Massachusetts last year ended up filing a lawsuit against the mandate, halting its enforcement, according to a report from Becker’s Healthcare.

The private room initiative is the latest in efforts to make significant investments and implement policy reform to improve care standards and quality of life, the Scioto Valley report found, supported by the Ohio Nursing Home Quality & Accountability Task Force.

Prior to the private room funding, the state launched Ohio Nursing Home Quality Navigator, an online tool offering detailed information about its nursing homes. The site aims to strengthen resident advocacy and facility inspections. 

Full Article & Source:
State Offers Medicaid Funding to Nursing Homes for Private Rooms

Friday, July 5, 2024

Jane Herring Dies So Judge Sends Son Who Defended Her To Prison

Jane Herring Dies So Judge Sends Son

Jane Herring Dies So Judge Sends Son Who Defended Her To Prison
— Jane Herring died about 7 o’clock this morning, July 2. Her son Arthur had not been able to talk to her since December and even then only with supervision.

Bucks County President Judge Raymond F. McHugh revoked Arthur’s bail sending him back to Bucks County Prison eight hours after Jane’s death.

That’s not much time to grieve.

Arthur is facing a charge of harassment for picketing the New Britain home of David Jaskowiak, who had been the lawyer appointed by Montgomery County Orphan’s Court for Jane. His arrest was April 27. Bail was initially set at 10 percent of $100,000 — remember Arthur is an an American citizen so the breaks illegal aliens get don’t apply to him — and he was hauled away.

After five weeks in the lockup, bail was reduced to 10 percent of $10,000 and friends were able to free him.

Among the conditions of bail set by McHugh, however, were that Arthur have no contact with Jaskowiak.

On June 10, Arthur cc’d Jaskowiak on an email sent to the court-appointed guardian of the estate informing him that their mail to him was being sent to an incorrect address and unfortunately include a few choice words.

Jaskowiak immediately contacted the court and a bail revocation hearing was scheduled.

Arthur had been living in his car. He is 70 years old, weighs 135 pounds and will stay in prison until his pre-trial hearing, July 16.

A lawyer once gave a law lecture about ways an attorney could send an opponent to prison via lawfare. He would get three hots and a cot and a date with Bubba, this lawyer said.

Whoever could this lawyer be?

Arthur very well might miss his mother’s funeral.

This was one contact in a month of freedom.

Does McHugh have an ounce of compassion or is he just lacking common sense?

Or maybe it’s just the backstory that he’s missing.

It can be read here.

Montgomery County’s court system is rife with horror stories concerning family matters like divorces and guardianships.

One can be read here.

And another here.

Let’s not forget this one.

Or just do a search for Elaine Mickman.

Some are saying that what’s happening is simply legal robbery allowing those connected with county legal systems to loot the estates of those in domestic turmoil.

We will reserve judgement.

But we will ask questions.

Why can a mother be prohibited from seeing her son when the son wants to see her and she wants to see him?

Why would a judge prohibit a family member from videoing a person under guardianship?

How could skin cancer not be diagnosed in a nursing home until it became malignant?

That’s what happened to Jane Herring.

A final thought: Why would the subject of a competency hearing be told it was not necessary to call witnesses?

Full Article & Source:
Jane Herring Dies So Judge Sends Son Who Defended Her To Prison

See Also:
70-Year-Old Man Risks Prison To See 99-Year-Old Mom

Thursday, July 4, 2024

Floridians with disabilities applaud new law protecting their rights

by Sabrina Maggiore,Charles Frazier

Millions of Floridians with disabilities are celebrating a new law that protects their rights.

Those new protections are listed under a Florida law that took effect this week.

Under the law, courts are now required to consider what’s known as “supportive decision-making agreements” before they place someone in legal guardianship, allowing people with disabilities to appoint helpers for certain jobs.

Michael Lincoln-McCreight became the first person in Florida to end a guardianship in favor of a supported decision-making agreement. He spent four years lobbying for a change to the law after his rights were stripped from him.

Born with fetal alcohol syndrome, autism, and ADHD, Lincoln-McCreight today is living his dream life.

He’s accomplished a life-long goal of working for Universal Orlando and supports himself in his Orange County home. He says he does not take it for granted.

“I feel like I went from being a prisoner to being a free human being,” Lincoln-McCreight said.

Lincoln-McCreight says he remembers the moments he aged out of foster care, was declared incapacitated, and was placed under guardianship.

“They take all your rights away,” Lincoln-McCreight recalled. “The right to vote. The right to get married. The right to choose who your relationships are...everything is literally stripped for you.”

Lincoln-McCreight spent years in court fighting to restore those freedoms. In 2016, a doctor and judge found he could make his own decisions, and his guardianship ended in favor of supported decision-making.

“You get help with the support of family and friends that you trust,” Lincoln-McCreight said.

For the last four years, he lobbied for the new state law requiring judges to consider alternatives to guardianship, like a notirzed, supported decision-making agreement.

Matt Dietz of Nova Southeastern Law School says the informal agreements grant supporters privileges to help those with special needs.

“Think of it as a continuum between the most restrictive and the least restrictive,” Dietz explained. “Courts now have to say, ‘Okay, you’ve come here for a guardianship, what types of decisions can this person make by themselves,’ before they say ‘the person loses all of their rights.’”

For Lincoln-McCreight, the law was worth the fight.

“This is going to make not only a difference for one person but millions of Floridians with disabilities,” Lincoln McCreight said.

The law also requires third parties to recognize supported decision-making agreements.

For example, schools and hospitals must allow appointed supporters to access confidential records if the agreements are in place.

Full Article & Source:
Floridians with disabilities applaud new law protecting their rights

New Mexico Man is the Fifth Defendant Sentenced in a Grandparent Scam that Targeted Kentucky Victims and Others

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Kentucky

Louisville, KY – A New Mexico man was sentenced last week to 1 year and 6 months in federal prison for his role in a sweeping “grandparent scam” that targeted victims in Kentucky and across the United States through Canadian-based call centers.

U.S. Attorney Michael A. Bennett of the Western District of Kentucky, Karen Wingerd, Special Agent in Charge, Cincinnati Field Office, IRS Criminal Investigation, and Special Agent in Charge Robert Holman of the United States Secret Service made the announcement.

According to court documents, callers would convince senior victims that their grandchild or other family member had an emergency, usually a car accident, and urgently needed money from the victim. Co-conspirators posing as “couriers” would then collect cash from victims at home and others would launder the criminal proceeds, both through traditional banks and cryptocurrency exchanges. The charged wire fraud conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy spanned from August 2020 to May 2021 and impacted hundreds of victims across the United States—including in Kentucky—who lost over $3 million in total.

Robert Louis Sanchez, 57, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, was sentenced last week to 1 year and 6 months in prison, followed by 3 years of supervised release, after pleading guilty to wire fraud conspiracy in April, for his role both as a courier and sometimes as the “safehouse” who would guard cash that was taken from victims.  

Four other defendants have previously entered guilty pleas and have been sentenced in the case.

Jairo Ostia Roberts, 44, who traveled from Panama to the United States to act as a courier in the scheme, was sentenced on March 9, 2023, to 6 months in prison followed by 1 year of supervised release, for wire fraud conspiracy. Roberts was removed to Panama upon his release from U.S. Bureau of Prisons custody.

Panama Abel Diaz Adames, 39, who also traveled from Panama to the United States to act as a courier in the scheme, was sentenced on April 4, 2024, to 1 year and 4 months in prison, followed by 3 years of supervised release, for wire fraud conspiracy.

Christopher Courcoulacos, 46, a Canadian citizen who had been residing in Panama, was considered a “manager or supervisor” within the conspiracy, and was sentenced on November 9, 2023, to 6 years in prison, followed by 3 years of supervised release, for wire fraud conspiracy.

Mark Anthony Phillips, 44, of Ruskin, Florida, was sentenced on May 2, 2024, to 6 years in prison, followed by 3 years of supervised release, after pleading guilty to a money laundering conspiracy charged in the Western District of Kentucky, as well as pleading guilty to five additional money laundering counts, originally charged in the Western District of New York, which were transferred to Kentucky for guilty pleas and sentencing. 

There is no parole in the federal system.

This case was investigated by the IRS-CI and USSS with assistance from the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Homeland Security Investigations, and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Corinne E. Keel prosecuted the case.

This case was investigated and prosecuted as part of the National Elder Justice Task Force and the Kentucky Elder Justice Task Force. The Department of Justice’s mission of its Elder Justice Initiative is to support and coordinate the Department’s enforcement and programmatic efforts to combat elder abuse, neglect and financial fraud and scams that target our nation’s older adults. Kentucky’s task force is comprised of investigators, prosecutors, and others at the local, state, and federal level with a common objective of protecting seniors across Kentucky.


Updated July 2, 2024

New Mexico Man is the Fifth Defendant Sentenced in a Grandparent Scam that Targeted Kentucky Victims and Others

Shapiro Administration Urges Older Adults to Watch for Scams When Purchasing an Annuity


Older adults could lose access to their savings due to unfair business practices associated with shopping for an annuity      ​

Harrisburg, PA – Keeping consumer-protection a priority and in observance of Elder Abuse Awareness Month this June, the Shapiro Administration reminds older adults to be wary of unfair business practices that can occur when purchasing an annuity.   
“An annuity should always be a purchase made in the best interest of the buyer – not the agent," said Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Michael Humphreys. “Older adults are often pressured into purchasing annuities they don't fully understand. When a consumer purchases an annuity that does not suit their needs, it can result in the loss of income and lack of access to their savings. During Elder Abuse Awareness Month, we're urging older adults to educate themselves on annuities and remind them to remain vigilant against aggressive or predatory agents."  
An annuity is a contract between a consumer and insurance company for the payment of money either at once or at some time in the future. These contracts are often used by people who are managing their retirement income.   
Inappropriate sales practices can occur when shopping for an annuity. PID encourages older adults to do the followingOpens In A New Window when shopping for an annuity that is in their best interest:   

  • Read the material and ask questions.   
  • Understand that money put in an annuity typically is “locked" for a period of time specified in the annuity contract (usually five- to-10 years). Withdrawing some or all of the money could result in a surrender charge.  
  • Pay attention to optional features offered with annuities and get information about additional fees associated with adding benefits.  
  • Utilize the free look period. Read and understand the terms of the contract. If you decide the terms are not favorable, you can cancel the contract and receive all of your money back (this only applies during the free look period).  

Consumers should not:   

  • Feel pressured into buying an annuity after receiving a free lunch, dinner or gift. Consumers are not required or obligated to buy anything in these instances.  
  • Make their check out to the agent or producer. The check should be addressed to the company issuing the annuity.   
  • Accept verbal assurance. The policy terms should always be verified in writing.   
  • Work with an agent who is unwilling or unable to provide credentials.  

PID addresses inappropriate annuity sales practices. Pennsylvania law, Act 99 of 2021Opens In A New Window, requires agents to put the needs of clients first and to act in the client's best interest when recommending an annuity.   

Since 2023, PID has helped Pennsylvanians recover over $2 million by assisting with free look period reviews and assuring proper payment of annuity proceeds. In one particularly egregious case, PID was able to get over $130,000 returned to an older Pennsylvanian that was sold an annuity that clearly wasn't in the consumer's best interest, and that was sold without the presence of the older Pennsylvanian's preferred financial advocate. 

“Financial exploitation has become the number one type of reported abuse against older adults in Pennsylvania. Because these cases take many forms and are often more complex, investigators are rarely able to get back all the money taken from the older adult, which is why education and prevention are so important," said Pennsylvania Department of Aging Secretary Jason Kavulich. “Older Pennsylvanians have worked hard and have been active in their communities all their lives. They should live with the dignity and respect that we all deserve, and we all must do what we can to ensure that an older adult's assets do not fall into the wrong hands."  

Anyone suspecting elder abuse should call the statewide reporting helpline at 1-800-490-8505, which operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  
Consumers who wish to file a complaint against a producer or agent selling annuities may visit PID's website or contact PID's Consumer Services BureauOpens In A New Window at 1-877-881-6388.   

Shapiro Administration Urges Older Adults to Watch for Scams When Purchasing an Annuity

Wednesday, July 3, 2024

Duo Tied Woman To Recliner At Toms River Facility, Ignored Her: NJAG

The two employees of the Alzheimer's care facility have been indicted in the case, authorities said.

by Karen Wall

The two are accused of falsifying records, claiming they checked on the woman when they did not. (Shutterstock)

TRENTON, NJ — Two Ocean County residents have been indicted on charges that they assaulted a 93-year-old woman they were supposed to care for at a long-term care facility in Toms River, the state Attorney General's office announced Friday.

Maria Alcantara, 53, of Toms River, and Joseph Robles, 23, of Tuckerton, were named in a 10-count indictment returned by a state grand jury in July 2023, according to documents from the state Attorney General's Office.

The two worked at Alcoeur Gardens, a memory care facility in Toms River. They are accused of tying the 93-year-old woman to a recliner with a bedsheet between Jan. 13 and Jan. 15, 2023, and not checking on her, according to court documents. 

In addition, they are accused of falsifying the records to say they checked on her every 30 minutes when they did not check on her, according to state investigators.

Alcantara and Robles are jointly charged with eight counts, two each of neglect, criminal restraint, assault on an institutionalized or elderly person, and endangering, and each is charged with one count of destruction falsification or alteration of medical records, according to court documents. 

Both pleaded not guilty, the attorney general's office said.

The charges resulted from an investigation by the attorney general's Office of Insurance Fraud Prevention’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.

"When we place our loved ones in the care of others, we rightfully expect that they will be treated with compassion, respect, and dignity," Attorney General Matthew Platkin said in announcing the indictment ahead of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. "Those placed in care facilities should not have to fear victimization. We have a duty to protect those who cannot protect themselves, and we will advocate for them and prosecute those who exploit and mistreat vulnerable members of our society."

"We will not allow our elderly to be subjected to criminal abuse. Our loved ones deserve better," said Interim Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Al Garcia. "Criminal cases like these send a clear message that anyone who would harm and neglect individuals who need and deserve proper care and assistance will be brought to justice."

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is commemorated on June 15, when individuals, communities, and organizations join together to shed light on the signs and the forms of elder abuse.

An estimated 1 in 6 people aged 60 or older are subjected to some type of abuse, including psychological abuse, physical abuse, financial abuse, sexual abuse, and other forms of neglect. The abuse can often remain hidden because the victims are too afraid or embarrassed to seek help.

Full Article & Source:
Duo Tied Woman To Recliner At Toms River Facility, Ignored Her: NJAG

Charles City duo accused of stealing over $100,000 from elderly victim

By Mike Bunge

CHARLES CITY, Iowa – One not guilty plea is entered in a case of two people accused of stealing over $100,000 from an elderly person in Floyd County.

Sondra B. Newberry, 65 of Charles City, and Charmaine R. Carr, 37 of Charles City, are charged with financial exploitation of an older individual.

Law enforcement says Newberry and Carr possessed power of attorney for their elderly victim and, between January 2020 and December 2023, they withdrew $127,837 from their victim’s bank account. Investigators say the money was not used in support of the victim’s best interest and no records were kept for receipts, payouts, or transactions.

Neberry has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to stand trial starting August 20.  Carr has not yet entered a plea.

Financial exploitation of an older individual is a class “B” felony in Iowa, punishable by up to 25 years in prison.

Full Article & Source:
Charles City duo accused of stealing over $100,000 from elderly victim

Tuesday, July 2, 2024

Law to promote alternative to guardianship goes into effect

by Danielle DaRos

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CBS12) — A new law goes into effect Monday that directs judges to consider a less restrictive alternative to guardianships, called Supported Decision Making.

For years, the CBS12 News I-Team has been reporting on the problems in Florida's guardianship system, in which incapacitated people lose all of their rights, access to money, and too often, become victims of abuse.

Now, a new law requires judges to consider Supported Decision Making for Floridians with disabilities, who do not need full-fledged guardianship. 

Instead of having a professional guardian exercise complete control over an individual in a restrictive court-ordered arrangement, Supported Decision Making allows an individual to maintain their freedom and rights. The individual has trusted advisors, like friends, relatives, mentors, pastors, etc., that help them make certain decisions.  

"I'm hearing from families all over the state about how much this is going to help them," Rep. Allison Tant, D-Tallahassee said. She said under guardianships, families used to have to go to court to help their loved ones make decisions.

Rep. Tant has been advocating for a Supported Decision Making law for years and finally saw it pass this year with unanimous support in the legislature.

Disability Rights Florida supported the passage of the law, and celebrated by calling it a "huge win" when Gov. DeSantis signed it last month.

"It’s really important to have other options," said Caitlyn Clibbon, Director of Community and Healthcare Services for Disability Rights Florida. "If there’s any way for a person to maintain their rights, whether that’s through power of attorney or through someone helping to make decisions through supported decision making, [we want to] to preserve everyone’s rights to the greatest extent possible."

A Port St. Lucie man named Michael Lincoln McCreight was an inspiration for the Supported Decision Making law. Three years ago, the I-Team profiled his journey of breaking out of a guardianship using the Supported Decision Making model. He was the first Floridian to do so. 

Full Article & Source:
Law to promote alternative to guardianship goes into effect

Former Monroe County official arrested for financial exploitation, stealing and forgery

By WGEM Staff

MONROE COUNTY Mo. (WGEM) - A former Monroe County public administraor was arrested on Monday after a four-month investigation started by the Missouri State Highway State Patrol’s Division of Drug and Crime Control.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol reported the arrest of 45-year-old Jessica Chase.

On February 15, Monroe County Sheriff Joe Colston requested the Missouri State Highway Patrol’s Division of Drug and Crime Control investigate Chase.

Following an investigation, Chase was charged with six counts of financial exploitation of an older/disabled person, six counts of forgery, seven counts of filing false documents, 12 counts of felony stealing, two counts of fraudulent use of a credit/debit device, and one count of money laundering.

A probable cause statement claims that while working as a PA for the county, Chase served as the conservator for many elderly and or disabled people.

The statement alleges that Chase financially exploited and permanently deprived several disabled people of their money by taking money from their accounts, without their knowledge or permission to purchase items for herself. In addition, Chase is also accused of withdrawing cash from several bank accounts, without the owner’s knowledge or consent and allegedly keeping that money for herself.

Chase allegedly conducted the transactions between March 16, 2023, and December 22, 2023.

According to court documents, Chase was the public administrator for Monroe County from Jan. 3, 2021, until she resigned on Feb. 6 of this year.

Chase has been on a $150,000 cash bond in the Monroe County Jail.

Full Article & Source:
Former Monroe County official arrested for financial exploitation, stealing and forgery

Collinsville Man Charged In Elderly Financial Exploitation Case

by Dalton Brown

COLLINSVILLE - A Collinsville man faces multiple felonies after allegedly deceiving a disabled elderly victim out of more than $15,000 over the course of 19 months.

David E. Alred, 50, of Collinsville, was charged with two counts of financial exploitation of an elderly person with a disability, both Class 1 felonies. He was additionally charged with theft of property over $5,000 by deception from an elderly person, a Class 2 felony.

From approximately Sept. 15, 2022 to April 16, 2024, Aldred reportedly obtained by deception over $15,000 from an elderly victim 70 years of age or older.

Madison County court documents filed on June 28, 2024 add that Alred stood in a “position of trust and confidence” with the victim as he carried out “a series of acts” to illegally obtain the money for more than a year and a half.

The Collinsville Police Department presented the case against Alred, who was ordered to be remanded to jail until his initial appearance in court.

The issuance of charges is based solely upon probable cause and is not an indication of guilt. All subjects charged with criminal offenses are considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.  

Full Article & Source:
Collinsville Man Charged In Elderly Financial Exploitation Case

Monday, July 1, 2024

Financial exploitation of seniors persists

Story by Jennifer Bullock

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Older Americans are falling victim to scams. Better Call 4 has told you about some of the most common tactics reported to agencies like the Better Business Bureau of Central Ohio, the Attorney General’s Office, the Federal Trade Commission and even the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

In fact, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) recently released its 2023 Elder Fraud Annual Report, which stated that adults over the age of 60 reported around $3.4 billion in monetary losses to fraud and scams last year.

“So, what the FBI’s report is about is what they call ‘elder fraud,’ which is when a stranger takes advantage of an elder,” Ian Bednowitz, general manager for cyber safety company Norton Lifelock, said.

Bednowitz said around the same time, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network — a bureau of the U.S. Department of the Treasury — released its report. The findings, for Bednowitz, hit close to home.

“They, in general, talk about elder financial exploitation, and there are two types,” Bednowitz said. “One is the elder fraud, the other is elder theft. And the number two form of elder theft is when a caregiver in the home actually steals from the elder. That was my personal experience was with elder theft.”

Bednowitz said the caregiver hired to take care of his mother was actually taking money from her.

“Thousands of dollars,” said Bednowitz. “And my heart sunk.”

Bednowitz said he spent a lot of time and energy cleaning up the mess that caregiver created, and doesn’t want to see anyone else go through that.

“The best defense is a good offense,” said Bednowitz. “If you have a caregiver in the home, you need to protect yourself.”

Bednowitz suggested vetting the agency and the caregiver, but warned against relying solely on a background check.

“My caregiver was background checked,” Bednowitz said. “She actually had a fake identity that she used past the background check.”

Dig a little deeper into their identity, he said. Before you invite them into the home, get all of the personal information out.

“Make sure you get all tax returns out, get the social security number out, start changing, redirecting where mail is going, so that it’s not coming to the home,” said Bednowitz.

Finally, consider freezing your — or your loved one’s — credit.

“If your credit is frozen, no one can take out access without you giving permission yourself to use your credit,” said Bednowitz. “And if you’re not going out and actually using your credit to buy a car or a home, keep your credit frozen.”

Full Article & Source:
Financial exploitation of seniors persists

Former employee charged with theft from Geneva dance studio

by Brenda Schory

A former employee of a Geneva dance studio faces charges of financial exploitation of an elderly person and theft of more than $100,000, court and police records show.

Desiree R. Cortez, 47, of Geneva was charged May 29 with three felonies: financial exploitation of an elderly person by illegally using more than $50,000 of assets; financial exploitation of an elderly person age 70 or older by a person in a position of trust for more than $15,000 of assets; and theft of over $100,000 but less than $500,000, according to the charging documents.

Cortez’s attorney did not respond to a message seeking comment.

Cortez was in charge of accounting and payroll for the Elise Flagg Academy of Dance, 319 W. State St., Geneva, for four years until she was fired Jan. 23, according to a 48-page police report.

According to the police report, Cortez made $258,669.46 in unauthorized personal purchases from June 1, 2022 through March 1.

Reports indicate police began investigating March 11 when the next employee to handle the dance company’s accounts reported the suspected theft.

Police detailed hundreds of transactions, so many that investigators created a spreadsheet to keep track, according to the report.

Cortez also is accused of using dance studio funds to pay for her daughter’s attendance at ballet camp in Pennsylvania and a high school trip to Europe; Amazon, DoorDash, UberEats, Verizon and Starbucks purchases; vacation travel expenses; and opened new credit cards and bank accounts in the dance company’s name, according to the report.

Cortez is scheduled to appear in court Aug. 1 for a preliminary hearing.

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Former employee charged with theft from Geneva dance studio

Sunday, June 30, 2024

Wendy Williams’ Unsealed Lawsuit Against A&E Cites ‘Exploitation’ And Inability To Consent

Story by Asheea Smith

Recent court documents filed on behalf of former talk show host Wendy Williams are against Lifetime's parent company, A&E, involving the release of the documentary series, 'Where is Wendy Willams?'      

The docuseries aired as a two-night special, setting sky-high ratings for the network late February. The show detailing Williams' deteriorating mental and physical health and concerning financial situation went on to average 1.2 million viewers over two nights.

Overall, the series received 6.2 million views across linear and digital platforms. The world watched as she struggled with alcohol, family, and the downward spiraling of her unruly fame. 

Per The Hollywood Reporter, Williams' was initially told that the documentary would be "positive and beneficial" to her image.

The complaint, which was unsealed Thursday, claims that A&E's contract to shoot the documentary wasn't valid due to Williams' alleged inability to consent to the series.

"This blatant exploitation of a vulnerable woman with a serious medical condition who is beloved by millions within and outside of the African American community is disgusting, and it cannot be allowed," the document claims. 

"We look forward to the unsealing of our papers as well, as they tell a very different story," A&E shot back in a statement.

The legal battle began when Williams' appointed temporary guardian, Sabrina Morrissey, filed a lawsuit with the New York County Supreme Court against the A&E Network to block the release of the documentary, a matter set for Feb. 27.  

In that filing, Morrissey alleged Williams, 59, was "incapable of managing her own business and personal affairs, and indeed, was placed into a guardianship and under the supervision of this court."

Kannie Yu Lapack, Lifetime's Executive VP and Public Affairs, confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter that the network appeared in person in court and decided to follow through despite the filing. Yu LaPack said, 'Where is Wendy Williams?' will "air this weekend as planned." 

"The Guardian was horrified by the release of the trailer and its contents," the filing alleges, claiming the footage falsey depicts Williams' behavior as a result of alcohol abuse rather than the result of a medical condition.

Williams' team announced her diagnosis of primary progressive aphasia and frontotemporal dementia just days before the launch of the series. 

Producers of the Lifetime series allege they were also shocked by the situation revealed during the documentary's filming and that their intent was to present a behind-the-scenes look into the former talk show host's comeback via a new podcast. 

Full Article & Source:
Wendy Williams’ Unsealed Lawsuit Against A&E Cites ‘Exploitation’ And Inability To Consent

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Wendy Williams