Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Feds: Moreland tried to pay woman $6,100 to recant allegations against him

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It was General Sessions Judge Casey Moreland who entered a courtroom in handcuffs on Tuesday, the chains binding his ankles clanking on the tile floor of Nashville’s federal courthouse.

"Do you understand what you're charged with and the possible punishment?" federal Magistrate Judge Joe Brown asked him.

"Yes sir," 59-year-old Moreland replied, seated in a button-down shirt and khakis next to his lawyer, Peter Strianse of Nashville. Asked for comment as he was leaving the courtroom, Moreland did not respond.

An FBI investigation of Moreland came to a head Tuesday, when federal officials announced the judge had been charged. That prompted Mayor Megan Barry to suggest the judge should resign, and Metro Council members took an initial step to call for his departure.

Moreland stands accused by the FBI of trying to bribe a woman to recant allegations against him by offering her $6,100, and conspiring with a confidential source to plant drugs on her in an apparent attempt to smear her credibility.

"The allegations set forth in the indictment set forth egregious abuses of power by a judge sitting here in Nashville," acting U.S. Attorney for Middle Tennessee Jack Smith announced in a Tuesday morning news conference.

Court documents say Moreland was charged with attempting to obstruct justice through bribery, witness tampering and retaliating against a witness. The charges carry an up to 20-year prison sentence.

Strianse argued in court Tuesday that federal law did not allow for the government to hold Moreland in custody, as Assistant U.S. Attorney Cecil VanDevender asked. Brown said Moreland would remain in custody at least until a hearing set for Friday afternoon.

“He’s obviously in a bit of a state of shock,” Strianse said of Moreland. “He certainly didn’t expect to be awoken by the Federal Bureau of Investigation this morning at 6 a.m. with a search warrant. They went to his sister’s home where he’s been living.”

The FBI investigation into Moreland, a judge since 1998, related to allegations that he helped people he knew in exchange for benefits including sexual favors, travel and lodging. Among the allegations documented in police reports and accounts were that he intervened in a traffic stop for a woman he had a personal relationship with and waived jail time for his future son-in-law.

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Feds: Moreland tried to pay woman $6,100 to recant allegations against him

Former Charleston lawyer indicted on embezzlement charges

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A once prominent lawyer in Charleston has been indicted on embezzlement charges.

According to Kanawha County Prosecutor Rob Schulenberg, Richard Michael Martin is facing 21 counts of embezzlement.

Martin worked at Michael Martin and Associates Law in Charleston. His law license was annulled in January 2015.

Schulenberg says there are potentially several hundred victims in this case.

An investigation was done by the West Virginia Insurance Commission and West Virginia State Police.

Martin's trial is scheduled for July.

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Former Charleston lawyer indicted on embezzlement charges

Befriending the needy in our community

In its “Summary of Public Policy Positions,” the League of Women Voters states the importance of providing essential support services for all. At the March Lunch With the League presentation, we learned about an extraordinary program right here in Montgomery County that clearly supports this goal. It is known as the Montgomery Adult Guardianship Services program and is an innovative volunteer limited guardian initiative designed to address the critical health care, social service and legal representation needs of the growing population of ill and at-risk incapacitated adults in the county.

The program recruits, trains and supervises volunteers to serve as limited guardians appointed by the Montgomery County Superior Court. MAGS volunteers undergo criminal history and social service background checks and personal interviews, provide references and complete an initial 30-hour training program. They are sworn-in by the court as officers and, as MAGS volunteers, serve as the guardian of the person.

MAGS is the first organized effort addressing the guardianship needs of this group of at-risk adults in the county. It is designed to safeguard the health care, social service and legal representation needs of this segment of our community by using trained volunteers to serve as court appointed limited guardians.

The role of the volunteer limited guardian is to investigate and assess the incapacitated person’s life situation, including locating relatives when possible, facilitate health care, social service and legal representation decision-making, plan for appropriate post-release placement and services and provides the court with recommendations for long-term planning for the individual.

These patients are people who frequently have been socially isolated much of their lives. They might include many frail elders in nursing homes and hospitals who often have multiple chronic conditions and are unable to make immediate decisions when problems becomes exacerbated or acute. They might also include those who never had capacity, including persons with mental retardation or developmental disabilities.

As a volunteer guardian/advocate, one is able to contribute significantly to their client’s needs under his or her court appointment as a limited guardian. Among other things, they are able to investigate and gather all requisite information regarding the health, welfare and financial circumstances of the incapacitated person. They can authorize the provision of health, social welfare and residential placement services as needed by the incapacitated person as well as advocate for the rights of the incapacitated person as a patient and facilitate legal representation when appropriate.

In order to qualify for help, one must be older than age of 18 and determined by a physician to be incapacitated and incapable of representing his/her own best interests or managing his/her own personal affairs. They can have no willing, able or suitable relative to serve as a guardian and are in need of the appointment of a limited guardian by the Montgomery County Superior Court.

The results of the volunteer’s work can literally be life-saving. The program’s significance is attested to by the fact that it is financially supported, in part, by the Indiana State Supreme Court. The training of volunteers is serious, as it should be. At the same time, the rewards of volunteer participation more than make up for the training schedule. It’s a rare opportunity to make a truly significant contribution to the lives of others who are truly alone and in need of help.

In order to get more information, contact Sharon White, program coordinator, Montgomery Adult Guardianship Services, 201 E. Jefferson St., Suite 202, Crawfordsville 47933. Phone 765-586-1396. You can also discover all Wabash Center has to offer by going to www.wabashcenter.com.

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Befriending the needy in our community 

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

7News Investigation Exposes Sex Offenders in Nursing Homes Across Massachusetts



BOSTON (WHDH) - They’ve attacked before, and could do so again. So why aren’t your loved ones told when a sex offender moves into their nursing home?

7NEWS uncovered convicted rapists and child abusers living in our state’s nursing homes and a system that keeps them secret.

Their convictions range from gross lewdness to aggravated rape to child rape. One of them has racked up a total of 24 sexual convictions. And all of them are living nearly invisibly among vulnerable senior citizens.

“The people in that nursing home that have a registered sex offender within their community don’t know it,” said David Hoey, a Massachusetts attorney who handles headline-grabbing elder abuse cases.

7NEWS took the addresses of nursing and rest homes in Massachusetts and compared them to the addresses for sex offenders on our state’s registry. Two Level 2 and 10 Level 3 sex offenders – the most dangerous kind – came up matches.

“Twelve is a lot. I think it’s more,” Hoey said.

“I found out accidentally when I wanted to join the neighborhood watch,” said Penny Shaw, a longtime Massachusetts nursing home resident and advocate for other residents. One registered sex offender lives in Shaw’s nursing home.

“Nobody but me in the building knows,” said Shaw.

Staff has assured her that he’s in poor health and far from a threat.

“In my building, I had no fear. I had 100 percent confidence in my facility’s ability to manage it,” said Shaw.

But worst fears have been realized before.

“The mental harm is the harm that can’t be erased or fixed,” said Hoey.

More than a decade ago, Hoey sued both a nursing home in Norwood and John Enos, a Level 3 sex offender who had lived there.

“His sex offense crimes were to children. So the nursing home did not believe that he would act out on elderly people,” said Hoey. Yet Enos was arrested for raping his 90-year-old roommate.

“He (the roommate) was a World War Two vet. There’s a level of honor there that can’t be replaced,” said Hoey.

Prosecutors dropped the case after Enos died the next year, and the civil case was later settled. Hoey insisted many other cases never begin.

“There are a number of families, because of that mental harm, who just will not come forward,” Hoey said.

“So you think there are other cases like this out there over the past decade, and we just don’t know about them?” a 7NEWS reporter asked Hoey.

“I know for a fact there are,” said Hoey. “The families realize that the litigation is not going to help them erase the mental harm.”

The year after Enos was arrested, Massachusetts banned Level 3 sex offenders from living in nursing homes. But the Supreme Judicial Court ruled that law unconstitutional when one offender challenged it. Since then, offenders have moved in, while other residents are left in the dark.

“There’s no way they would know. And sometimes the nursing homes themselves don’t know because there’s no requirement for them to ask that question,” said Pam Nadash, an associate professor in the Department of Gerontology at UMass Boston who has studied the issue. In addition, even if a nursing home knows of an offender living in its facility, management is not required to tell anyone.

“There’s a really strong argument that you have a right to know,” said Nadash, while also cautioning against overreaction. “These people are really sick and frail. They’re not necessarily going to be up to doing anything harmful.”

“The real issue is not notification. The real issue is whether the management knows what they’re doing and takes someone who is not a risk,” Shaw said. “The onus still falls on the building to protect people.”

Tara Gregorio, president of the Massachusetts Senior Care Association, which represents many nursing homes, provided the following statement to 7NEWS:

“While there are no specific regulatory requirements or restrictions relative to sex offenders living in nursing facilities, our facilities screen every application carefully, and work diligently to ensure the safety of every patient. Along with quality of care, patient safety is a top priority. The Massachusetts Senior Care Association and its members continue to welcome any guidance from the state Department of Public Health that balances resident safety and privacy.”

Still, Hoey insisted nursing homes can do more.

“If you have a sex offender registered, living in your nursing home, you post it. Residents have a right to know,” said Hoey.

Federal law does require nursing homes to identify any residents who may abuse others and come up with a plan to prevent it, without specifically addressing sex offenders. In Massachusetts, background checks are required for nursing home staff, but not residents.

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7News Investigation Exposes Sex Offenders in Nursing Homes Across Massachusetts

'Ruthie's Law' unveiled to protect nursing home residents

Nursing Home Press Conference
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz deliberated on whether to show before-and-after photos of Ruth Murray as part of his press conference for a new measures to protect nursing home residents. In the end, he decided he could show the "before" photo -- taken one day before she was attacked -- but not the "after."

"Truthfully, they're too shocking to show in public," Poloncarz said.

Murray's family was initially kept in the dark about the attack and later told she suffered "minor cuts, lacerations and bruises."

The attack proved fatal.

Now, Poloncarz is pushing for a county law to require nursing homes to inform a designated loved one or guardian within an hour when a nursing home resident suffers an injury requiring hospital treatment. The proposed local law would also give the county's commissioner of senior services the ability to subpoena and review nursing home injury reports to ensure compliance.

County Executive Mark Poloncarz displays "before" image of 
nursing home victim Ruth Murray, right, and her daughter, taken
the day before Murray was beaten by a fellow resident.

The law would also give the senior services commissioner data on the frequency of altercations between patients, or between patients and staff, that result in injury. Data regarding serious injuries or deaths would also have to be provided.

The county executive called his family notification measure "Ruthie's Law" in memory of Ruth Murray, a nursing home resident who was killed last year. It will be submitted to the Erie County Legislature next week.

"No one should ever be deceived about a loved one's condition," Poloncarz said.

An 84-year-old man last August fatally injured Murray, an 82-year-old fellow nursing home resident, in a brutal beating after she wandered into his room in the dementia unit. Both were residents of Emerald South Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, 1175 Delaware Ave. near West Ferry Street, in Buffalo.  (Click to Continue)

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'Ruthie's Law' unveiled to protect nursing home residents

Home health care worker charged with exploitation of adult

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- A home health care provider is off the job after she was charged with exploitation of an adult, forgery, theft, identity theft and a computer offense.

According to court documents, Christine Bethann Maples of Tazewell City used an 87-year-old woman's bank card to pamper herself.

The victim reportedly suffered a stroke and had difficulty completing daily activities. Maples was brought in to assist the victim in daily activities during the month of February.

The Knoxville Police Department was alerted of financial exploitation when the victim's son contacted them.

Court documents revealed Maples used the woman's card approximately 15 different times. She allegedly made purchases at Victoria's Secret, Pilot, Nail Design, Hobby Lobby and other Knoxville stores.

Local 8 News reached out to the detective working this case. He said there are at least four people who have been victimized by Maples.

Local 8 News Reporter Dave Detling tracked another victim down. She claimed Maples stole two envelopes from her purse containing $2,000.

At the time, Maples was working as a home health care provider through Home Instead Senior Care.

In a statement, businesses owner Amy Hull said:

"Prior to placing a caregiver in a client’s home, we conduct rigorous third-party background checks, as well as personal and professional reference checks. These were all completed in this instance, and we did not find any history of inappropriate behavior. Upon learning of these allegations, the employee was suspended immediately and has since been fired. We have cooperated fully with the authorities and will to continue to do so throughout this investigation.”

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Home health care worker charged with exploitation of adult

Monday, March 27, 2017

Lawmakers consider making financial abuse by caregivers a felony

When our kupuna are duped out of their savings by their own caregivers, it’s called financial abuse.

The question is, should that be seen as a separate, heinous crime?

According to a study by the National Adult Protective Services Association, 90 percent of the abusers are family members or someone known to the victim. But the penalties for caregivers who abuse them could be getting tougher.

State lawmakers are looking over HB432 that defines a caregiver as any person who has temporary or permanent care, custody or supervision or who has legal duty to care for the health of an elder.

Lawmakers are still considering the total amount of money taken before the crime is considered a felony.

Financial abuse against the elderly can include misusing ATM cards, stealing checks or overcharging for in-home care provider services.

AARP Hawaii state director Barbara Kim Stanton says elder abuse from caregivers can have lasting impacts on the victims. “You are talking about a group who are pretty much as vulnerable as you can get,” she said. “They are dependent on their caregivers and the fact that it hasn’t stopped or even slowed down at all shows you have to put an appropriate penalty in order to make the behavior change.”

According to statistics from the Hawaii Department of Human Services, there were 214 documented cases of abuse, neglect or financial exploitation last year.

One of the bill’s sponsors, State Rep. Dee Morikawa, says financial abuse should be made a felony “because there has to be a substantial penalty to deter this from happening. Because when you do exploit the elderly, you actually leave them in a place in their life where they have nothing. They become depressed and it’s almost making them very, very ill.”

The Honolulu Police Department has expressed its support for the bill, saying it “provides an additional mechanism to protect the elderly.”

Through written testimony– The Honolulu Department of the Prosecuting Attorney suggested a threshold of $50,000 to classify the offense as nothing less than a Class A felony.

Advocate for the elderly Jamie Rodrigues, however, is critical of the bill and says lawmakers should focus on programs that help the victims instead.

“It’s a non-violent crime,” Rodrigues said. “Our judiciary system is already inundated, our prison systems are already overfull of prisoners, and if we could, implement a system of consequences that would be better for the abused adult.”

The local AARP has two free events scheduled for next month on various islands to educate people about preventing older Americans from becoming victims of financial scams: A fraud watch network “shred-a-thon” to help dispose of documents on Saturday, April 22, and a “scam jam” to fight cyber threats and identity fraud on Thursday, April 27.

For more information:

Click here for the “shred-a-thon”

Click here for the “scam jam”

Or you can call the AARP Hawaii office at 545-6024.

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Lawmakers consider making financial abuse by caregivers a felony

Senate lawmakers introduce bill clarifying who can discipline sitting judges after N.C. Supreme Court ruling


Senate lawmakers introduced a bill Tuesday clarifying that the Judicial Standards Commission has the sole power to discipline judges and justices of the court — not the North Carolina State Bar.

Senate Bill 250 states that sitting judges cannot be disciplined by the State Bar for conduct occurring while in office.
“The Council shall have the jurisdiction, authority, and procedure for discipline of any conduct that occurred prior to the judge’s election or appointment to office.”
The bill appears to stem from a recent North Carolina Supreme Court ruling reversing the State Bar’s disciplinary proceedings involving a Dare County superior court judge. The court ruled that only it or the Judicial Standards Commission may impose discipline for sitting judges.

Jerry Tillett was reprimanded by the Judicial Standards Commission in 2013 for violating principles of personal conduct after he launched his own investigation into the Kill Devil Hills Police Department, the town’s district attorney and other officials.

His feud with officials occurred after his son was detained by police in 2010. You can read more about it here.

Two years after Tillett was reprimanded, the State Bar initiated its own disciplinary proceedings, which could have ultimately resulted in the suspension of the judge’s license to practice law (which would have forced him to leave the bench).

Tillett asked the Supreme Court to step in. The Criminal Law Blog, from the UNC School of Government, sums up the high court’s response well with commentary about what the ruling means.
It held that “while a judge remains in office, only this Court or the [Judicial Standards Commission] may impose discipline for his or her conduct as a judge.” The lead opinion notes that the Judicial Standards Commission was created in the early 1970s based on the understanding that the State Bar’s disciplinary procedures did not apply to judges. There was, therefore, a lack of an appropriate formals means to discipline judges short of removal, and the Judicial Standards Commission was “intended to fill that void” and to be the exclusive means of disciplining judges while in office for conduct that occurs during their judicial service.
Chief Justice [Mark] Martin’s concurring opinion supports “the wisdom of the overall scheme that the General Assembly has prescribed.” The Chief Justice argues that precluding the State Bar from disciplining sitting judges “preserves judicial independence” and avoids putting judges at the mercy of the lawyers who appear before them.

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Senate lawmakers introduce bill clarifying who can discipline sitting judges after N.C. Supreme Court ruling

Caretaker accused of embezzling thousands from elderly Ann Arbor woman



ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Local police agencies are reporting a rise in scams involving senior citizens, and most of the scammers are those who were supposed to care for them.

One of those incidents involves an 89-year-old Ann Arbor woman who fell victim to her greedy caretaker.

According to police, Cheryl Elaine Smith of Lakeland is accused of stealing over $100,000 from the victim.

Smith was helping the victim with in-home care at the time of the embezzlement.

During this period, Smith allegedly opened bank accounts in the victim’s name, including credit cards that Smith would use for her own personal purchases.

The family of the victim took notice when the bank accounts showed significant and unexplained withdrawals.

This is not the first time Smith has been in trouble involving an elderly person and stolen funds.

In 2015, Smith's family petitioned the Livingston County Court for the removal of her name on her mother’s estate after allegations of her taking Florida trips and putting her own name on her mother’s property and pocketing $100,000 from her mother’s account.

Smith has been charged with embezzlement of a vulnerable adult between $50,000 and $100,000, and larceny of more than $20,000.

She is expected back in court next week.

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Caretaker accused of embezzling thousands from elderly Ann Arbor woman