Saturday, November 5, 2011

Judges, Lawyers Use Guardianships to Prey on Elderly

Think your well-tended nest egg will protect you from the depredations of old age? Don't count on it.

Little has changed since the D.C. Court of Appeals ruled almost a decade ago that Probate Judge Kaye Christian abused her power by ordering retired economist Mollie Orshansky, creator of the federal poverty line, removed from her sister's care in New York and placed in a District guardianship against her will.

Even multimillionaires cannot prevent a judge from appointing a total stranger to take complete control of their affairs -- and banish family members who object.

That's what happened to five-term D.C. Council member Hilda Mason and her husband, Charles, a Harvard graduate who traced his lineage back to the Plymouth landing. Despite Charles' $22.5 million fortune, this power couple ended their lives in squalor.

Blind, wheelchair-bound and suffering from diabetes and skin cancer, Charles spent his last days in dirty clothing and worn-out shoes, with fingernails so long they curled around his fingers.

"He looked like a hobo," one witness told The Washington Examiner. His frail wife suffered a broken collarbone when one of her "caregivers" ran her over with a four-wheel-drive vehicle.

At the time of Hilda Mason's death in 2007, debris and broken furniture littered every room of the couple's once-stately Shepherd Park home. The roof leaked and the house was infested with rodents and insects.

As attorneys helped themselves to the couple's assets, Episcopal Senior Ministries reported that "there appears to be no individual or group that is currently responsible for the cleaning/condition of the house."

Guardianship abuse is not limited to people with money, as Laura Francois-Eugene, a supervisor at the Department of Homeland Security, learned the hard way.

Her mother's only financial resources are her modest D.C. home and a small monthly Social Security check. But after a fall left the elderly woman temporarily paralyzed, Probate Judge Franklin Burgess appointed a conservator to handle her affairs despite the fact that her daughter had previously been named her legal guardian.

Francois-Eugene told The Washington Examiner she is forced to pay for her mother's food, dentures, medicine and clothing out of her own salary because the court-appointed conservator has been hoarding her mother's Social Security benefits.

The same thing is happening to another 91-year-old woman, a former D.C. Public Schools employee forced into a guardianship after Maryland lawyers characterized her daily walk as "wandering."

"Some lawyers took all my money," she told us, adding that she can't access her own pension or Social Security benefits, even to buy herself an ice cream cone.

Full Article and Source:
Judges, Lawyers Use Guardianships to Prey on Elderly

Note: Laura Francois-Eugene is a NASGA member.

Lawmakers Asked to Tighten Laws on Financial Abuse of the Elderly

State law requires that cases of suspected physical abuse of the elderly must be reported to law enforcement, but there is no such requirement in cases of suspected financial abuse, legislators were told today.

Banks or other financial institutions must report those suspicions to the state office of Adult Protective Services, which is not a law enforcement agency and is not equipped to conduct a criminal investigation, said Patricia McManaman, director of the state Department of Human Services.

McManaman, whose department includes the Adult Protective Services office, said the original version of the law on elderly financial exploitation required financial institutions to report their suspicions to both APS and law enforcement.

But before the final version of the law was enacted, it was changed to remove law enforcement notification, said McManaman.

As search of the legislative history of the measure did not disclose the reasons for the deletion, she said, adding that she suspected lobbyists for the financial industry may have sought the change.

Because victims may suffer from medical and mental conditions, said the prosecutor, the sooner the cases can be investigated, the better the chances of a successful outcome.

Full Article and Source:
Lawmakers Asked to Tighten Laws on Financial Abuse of the Elderly

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Heartbreaking Passing of Dorothy Wilson—Part V

I wanted to write this next installment of the “Heartbreaking” series about two weeks or so ago. However, on October 23, 2011, the subject of these articles, Dorothy Wilson, passed into spirit very quickly and unexpectedly. The information I intended to share was filled with many of the misgivings and illegalities caused by the people who Diane—Dorothy’s loving daughter—was trying to overcome. Instead, I am bemoaning the fact that one of our fine elderly citizens died before seeing her desires be filled. In one of Dorothy’s many letters, written on September 18, 2011, and ignored by judges, lawyers, politicians and the media, she wrote:

To Whom It May Concern,

I want to go home more than anything else in the world. There is nothing wrong with me. Being home would make me the happiest person in the world. You never realize how precious your home is until you are not in it.

Please help me. I want to go home.

Sincerely,
Dorothy Wilson


The despicable actions of the law guardian in this case are not forgotten. While Dorothy Wilson may not have lived her last couple of years stress-free and happy, the fact that she was unafraid to talk to me and others who wanted to help her will allow the spotlight to shine on other disreputable judges and guardians. Let there be no doubt that her passing will not go without an ongoing initiative to press forward in ending the rampant system of “legal” thievery. Let there be no doubt that there will be justice for Dorothy. No one should ever be allowed to have their civil and humanitarian rights taken away. No one should ever have to live their final years in grief, anger and humiliation.










Full Article and Source:
The Heartbreaking Passing of Dorothy Wilson

'Victims-Of-Law'


Victims-of-Law are persons who have been subjected to tyrannical or arbitrary rulings or edicts in violation of constitutional and civil rights under the democratic maxim reminiscent of our Republic -- the "Rule of Law"
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The victims of unethical and corrupt lawyers, judges and employees of the state and federal judiciary demand accountability from those who abuse the power of office while they remain absolutely immune. The media as well as the legislative and executive branches of government traditionally ignore these abuses. The judicial branch itself hurls insults at the victim claiming they are nothing more than a 'disgruntled litigant' while ignoring substantive allegations.

It is essential to empower the victims of legal abuses. Our strength is in our numbers thus the more people that demand their constitutional and civil rights the quicker they will be attained.

What most people do not comprehend is that judges are immune from civil lawsuits. If a judge unlawfully imprisoned someone or maliciously denied due process in a case that cost a litigant millions of dollars, it doesn't matter. There is no redress for the aggrieved person.

The emotional and physical health problems inherent in these abuses are now coming to light but the judicial branches throughout our country continue to avoid or deliberately ignore what they have helped to create.

This website hopes to publish documented proof of many of the deliberate violations of the 'rule of law, the doctrine upon which our Constitutional Republic is based.

Source:
VictimsOfLaw.net

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Experts Speak at FISH Crime Prevention Workshop

In the past six months, the Friends In Service Here or F.I.S.H. organization has noticed an increase in its clients being approached in person or online by solicitors asking for money. This prompted the setting up of a recent workshop to help seniors learn practical ways in which they can guard against this growing problem crimes against the elderly.

More than 30 interested islanders gathered at the Sanibel Senior Center 4 Life last week to hear Detective Joe Roubicek, who has investigated more than 1,000 exploitation of the elderly crimes over the past 25 years. He spent 20 years as a detective with the Fort Lauderdale Police Department.

"I am honored to be on Sanibel talking about preventing crimes against the elderly," Roubicek said.

In a lively debate, Roubicek answered questions from the audience and addressed concerns Sanibel residents had, particularly relating to online banking requests for money and other forms of phishing scams.

"There are two types of crimes," explained Roubicek. "There is fraud and exploitation."

The definition of fraud, according to the law, is deception. Of all the fraud crimes, phishing is the most common with Americans of all ages using the Internet to bank, pay bills and shop.

The second type of crime against the elderly, and one Roubicek has worked to improve laws against, is exploitation. This crime differs from fraud because it involves a person 60 years or older who has been taken advantage of due to a physical or emotional dysfunction.

In 1994, Roubicek testified before the Florida House and Senate to improve laws designed to protect the elderly and he contributed to the writing of Florida Statute 825.103: Exploitation of an Elderly Person or Disabled Adult.

"It's a great law because it brings the charges up to felonies, much like grand theft," explained Roubicek, who was joined by Lt. Michael Cooper at the workshop.

Full Article and Source:
Experts Speak at FISH Crime Prevention Workshop for the Elderly

See Also:
FinancialAbuseOfTheElderly

Iowa Supreme Court Sides With HALT

On August 26, 2011, the Iowa Supreme Court rejected a proposal offered by the Office of Professional Regulation that would have allowed lawyers who voluntarily agree to be suspended to keep the reason for their suspension confidential.

"The Court's decision to give this anti-consumer proposal the boot before it could even be distributed for public comment is very promising," said HALT Executive Director Rodd Santomauro. "HALT has long supported increased transparency in lawyer discipline systems and applauds the Iowa Supreme Court's quick action."

According to a new HALT study, Iowa is one of 21 states that provide online access to court decisions or case briefs associated with attorney disciplinary proceedings. Thirty states give legal consumers absolutely no information about the details of an attorney's misconduct.

The Iowa Office of Professional Regulation has now been tasked by the Court to come up with proposals that actually increase consumer protection. Those proposals will be released for public comment before the Court takes final action.


Full Article and Source:
Iowa Supreme Court Sides With HALT

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

NJ Guardianship Lawyer and Former Law Office Paralegal Indicted

A guardianship attorney and her former paralegal were indicted today on charges of theft and failing to make required disposition of more than $800,000, Prosecutor Peter E. Warshaw, Jr. announced.

The charges stem from a three-year investigation conducted by the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office into the guardianship practice of attorney Lynn Kenneally,50,of Wall. The investigation revealed that Kenneally routinely received guardianship appointments in Monmouth and Ocean Counties for individuals (“wards”) whose interests Kenneally was supposed to faithfully represent, such as senior citizens deemed by judges of the Superior Court to lack the necessary mental faculties to manage their own affairs. In her capacity as a court-appointed guardian, Kenneally’s primary responsibility was the honest and faithful management of her wards’ finances. However, a forensic examination of Kenneally’s law practice revealed that, from October 2000 through December 2006, more than $800,000 of proceeds belonging to Kenneally’s wards was diverted into or through the personal bank accounts of Tara Howie, 40, of Brick, a former paralegal of Kenneally’s guardianship practice.

The investigation further revealed that Howie used approximately $500,000 of this money to pay for college tuition, mortgage payments, car payments and various other personal expenditures; and that Kenneally repeatedly overpaid bills on behalf of her wards, causing the issuance of refund checks that were ultimately diverted. To further conceal the theft scheme, mandatory accountings filed by Kenneally failed to disclose the existence of checks that were ultimately deposited into Howie’s personal accounts.

If convicted, Kenneally and Howie face a maximum potential custodial sentence often years in New Jersey State Prison. The next court proceeding will be the arraignment ofthe defendants, which will be scheduled within the next several weeks.

Full Article and Source:
Guardianship Attorney Indicted for Bilking $800,000 from Incapacitated Wards

The Case Against Lawyers


The Case Against Lawyers:

How the Lawyers, Politicians, and Bureaucrats Have Turned the Law into an Instrument of Tyranny--and What We as Citizens Have to Do About It


Source:
Barnes and Noble

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

An Opportunity to Recognize Pro Bono Lawyers and Their Clients

Lois DeWolf asked for little. The Battle Creek woman in her nineties took great pleasure in simple things like riding city buses around town and spending the day people-watching at the mall.

That all came to an end when her poorly maintained home was condemned and Adult Protective Services (APS) petiioned the court to appoint a professional guardianship company as temporary guardianship/conservatorship.

The guardianship company took control of DeWolf's finances, and she was placed into a nursing home.

DeWolf's nightmare really began in the nursing facility. According to friends, unfounded presumptions were made about her health, and for months she was denied visits from her friends, members of her church, and other well-wishers. Even though she did not have dementia, DeWolf was made to wear a "wander guard"-a leg bracelet designed to keep tabs on those who suffer from Alzheimer*s disease. The once-independent, mobile senior was now confined and in misery.

Bradley Vauter, a concerned and compassionate member of the Legal Hotline for Michigan Seniors, alerted attorney Kelly Quardokus of DeWolf's plight. She agreed to represent DeWolf pro bono.

"Kelly was an answer to prayer," said Joan Klopfenstein, one of DeWolf's closest friends. "She stepped in and within one day the tether was off. Lois was allowed to have friends visit, the following Sunday she was allowed to go to church, and friends could take her shopping and out to eat."

Quardokus chalked her success up to experience and knowledge of how to work within the long-term care system to benefit elderly clients. "I was just so grateful to help her," Quardokus said.

*She was so independent, and I felt that she should go on living that way.*

Quardokus believed DeWolf would benefit from collaboration with other advocacy agencies. Before she approached APS and the nursing home about DeWolf, Quardokus enlisted the support of K. Jonker, the local ombudsman from the Michigan Office of Long-Term Care. With Jonker's help, Quardokus was able to persuade APS to drop the guardianship/conservatorship in exchange for a patient advocate and durable power of attorney, which gave DeWolf more choices and control of her life.

Now living semi-independently, a grateful DeWolf echoed her lawyer's sentiment. Her message to lawyers who are not providing pro bono services is: "Please help. You are really needed." Lawyers concerned about the lack of fi nancial compensation for pro bono services should consider the observations of DeWolf's friend, Joan Klopfenstein: "Through her efforts, Kelly was able to restore Lois's dignity. Who can put a price tag on that?"

Source:
Pro Bono Month: An Opportunity to Recognize ProBono Lawyers and Their Clients

Woman Charged With Financial Exploitation of a Senior

A Farmington woman is charged with stealing from a nursing home patient with dementia who then faced eviction from Trinity Care Center after falling $20,000 behind on rent.

Roxanne Helen Meyer, 51, allegedly used at least $16,660 to pay her own taxes and bills, her daughter’s tuition and other expenses from the account of the victim, identified as N.E. P. in the Dakota County criminal complaint filed last week. Other items investiagators claim was purchased with the funds include new tires for Meyer’s vehicle, wedding gifts, Christmas gifts, and food for Christmas gathering at Meyer’s daughter’s home.

Source:
Farmington Woman Charged With Financial Exploitation of a Senior

Monday, October 31, 2011

Matthew Keenan's Fight for Freedom Cost Him $120,766

Matthew Keenan, the man who fought for independence from his conservator after recovering from a coma, has been ordered to pay a portion of Colorado State Bank and Trust's court costs.
But the $120,766 awarded to the bank is less than half of what it spent in a four-year legal battle with Keenan.
The bank had sought more than $300,000 to recoup the costs of contesting Keenan's petition for independence, costs of an appeal, costs of litigating issues remanded by a Colorado appeals court and interest on its unpaid bills.

In February, the appeals court ruled the bank had reasonably contested Keenan's efforts to terminate its services as his conservator but left open the question of whether the bank could collect $217,466 in legal fees and costs. That issue was remanded to the Boulder district court.
In Boulder, the bank also requested $40,457 for appeal costs, $20,585 for litigating the remanded issue and $30,928 in interest.
Boulder District Court Judge Thom as Mulvahill ruled Oct. 21 that the bank "employed reasonable litigation tactics" because Keenan "was effectively challenging every transaction and expenditure involving the conservatorship" besides petitioning for independence.
Full Article and Source:
Recovered Patient's Tab to Break With Conservator $120,766

See Also:
Probate Loss Might Change Colorado Law

Need to Know: 'Lives on Hold'

The pentagon estimates that one in five American soldiers will return from battle with a traumatic brain injury. Need to Know checks in on three families that have had to deal with the effects of TBI.

Watch the Video: Need to Know - 'Lives on Hold'

Sunday, October 30, 2011

State of CA Says 1,000 Care Facilities Match Sex Offender Addresses

The addresses for more than 1,000 state-licensed care facilities for vulnerable people in California matched addresses on the state sex offender registry, according to a newly released audit.

State Auditor Elaine M. Howle said the California Department of Social Services failed to check the sex offender registry even after her office advised it to do so in 2008.

The facilities matching the registry of sex offenders included foster homes, group homes and day-care facilities for children, as well as facilities for adults with special needs and the elderly.

The auditor informed state regulators of the 1,000 sex offender hits in July. Investigations are now complete and the state said eight licenses have been revoked or suspended and regulators issued 31 orders barring individuals from licensed facilities.

The audit was ordered earlier this year at the request of state Assemblyman Henry Perea (D-Fresno). The audit was also intended to compile data on deaths of children who were under the oversight of child protective services.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors balked at subpoenas for information and hired outside lawyers to fight the inquiry. The auditor's office has vowed to continue to press the county for records and to issue a second report in the coming months.

Full Article and Source:
State Says 1,000 Care Facilities Match Sex Offender Addresses

Elder Care Advocates Must Tell Congress to Protect Long-Term Care Programs for Seniors

[T]he Consumer Voice released an “Action Alert” this week calling on all advocate to send a message to Congress so that they do not cut important programs for seniors. As many readers know, the “Super Committee” made up of a group of Congress members are currently meeting to discuss ways to trim the federal deficit. Many different proposals have been brought forward upon which the committee may act, usually involving a combination of tax increases, loophole closures, and spending reductions. Clearly, some changes need to be made by lawmakers to ensure long-term national financial stability. Yet, it is important that those changes not result in cuts to programs upon which seniors depend. If that happens, the “cut” may actually be counterproductive, because it will result in more social, financial, and medical problems for the seniors—ultimately costing taxpayers more money to treat.

The Super Committee has been charged with coming forward with a deficit reduction plan by November 23rd. They must essentially cut $1.5 trillion, and so a wide range of essential program that seniors depend on are at risk. All senior advocacy groups are urging seniors and their loved ones to take time to contact members of this committee and urge them to take fair and reasonable steps to reduce the deficit that does not place the lives of our most vulnerable community at risk. There are many ways in which advocates can make their voices heard. The Consumer Voice has an online letter than can be signed urging the Super Committee not to force seniors and the disabled for carrying an unfair share of the deficit burden. In addition, everyone can contact these members on their own via postal mail, email, fax, or phone call. It is particularly important for those people who live in the districts of Super Committee members to take the time to contact their representative and urge fairness in the process.

Full Article and Source:
Elder Care Advocates Must Tell Congress to Protect Long-Term Care Programs for Seniors

Gov. Chris Christie: Elitist Judges Must be Stopped

State Superior Court Assignment Judge Linda Feinberg set off a furor last week when she ruled that increases in the cost of pensions and health care benefits for judges and justices were, in effect, pay cuts that are forbidden by the state Constitution.

Although [Governor Chris Christie] appealed the decision Tuesday, he is intent on seeking a constitutional amendment to bypass it.

As for Feinberg ruling in favor of the justices, [Mount Laurel Mayor Jim]Keenan dismissed the notion that Christie was "politicizing the judiciary.""It is simply common sense and fairness," he said.

Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver went on record last week opposing the constitutional amendment, which would require legislative approval before being put before voters.

Senate President Stephen Sweeney said he would wait for the case to make its way through the courts before deciding what to do.

Full Article and Source:
Gov. Chris Christie: Elitist Judges Must be Stopped