Saturday, July 25, 2015

Tribute to Latifa Ring by Jeff Prince, Reporter for Fort Worth Weekly

Latifa Ring, a Houston woman who advocated for elderly citizens swept up in guardianship cases, has died after a lengthy illness. She was 59.

“She had more love in one little finger than some people have in their whole bodies,” said Dorothy Luck, a Fort Worth woman who, with Ring’s help, was able to battle herself out of guardianship case that had been thrust upon her by a Tarrant County probate court judge.

Ring became a guardianship activist after discovering that some probate judges in Texas and across the country abuse their powers to take over the lives of elderly people. Once under guardianship, clients are essentially powerless to do anything as attorneys, counselors, bankers, and others starting emptying their bank accounts.

Ring spent many hours looking into Luck’s problems, making countless phone calls and even driving from Houston to Fort Worth for visits. She also flew to Washington D.C. on her own dime to advocate. Luck still isn’t sure how Ring heard about her case.

“All of a sudden, like an angel, she was here,” Luck said. “She was championing [her cause] and trying to help everybody. She deserves a lot.”

Ring had read some of my previous stories and called one day to ask me to write about Luck. I was swamped with work and had already published several guardianship stories and wasn’t looking to do another anytime soon.

“We’re the Fort Worth Weekly, not the Guardianship Weekly,” I recall telling her.

Ring wouldn’t let me off the hook that easily. She kept calling, feeding me bits of information, trying to hook me. She never demanded anything, never got angry at me. She was smart, devoted to her cause, persistent, and easy to talk to. Eventually I could no longer refuse her.

I’m glad she stayed on me.

After the story on Luck was published, a probate judge removed the guardianship.

Ring mentioned her illness back then, but briefly. I’m not even sure what ailment she suffered from. She rarely discussed her problems, only those of Luck and others that she was trying to help. Ring spent most of her life helping others. She grew up in an orphanage in Morocco. Because she was older than most of the other children, she served as a de-facto caretaker.

It’s a role she never relinquished.

Family and friends will celebrate her life at 2 p.m. Saturday at Klein Funeral Home Chapel, 9719 Wortham Blvd., in Houston.

Source:
Guardianship Activist Latifa Ring Dead

Governor's veto strands indigent wards of state



At least 20 elder or disabled adults in Southwest Florida who have no money, no reliable family, a diminished ability to make their own decisions and nowhere to turn for support are among the Floridians feeling the sting of Gov. Rick Scott's record veto of $461.4 million in state funding last month.

Scott vetoed $750,000 in funding for public guardianships this year for indigent, incapacitated adults in Sarasota and Escambia counties. Lutheran Services Florida, a nonprofit agency that handles state-funded guardianships in these two counties, is now scrambling to serve 100 Sarasota County wards without pay, and has stopped taking any new cases.

"We know there's at least 20 on the waiting list," said Chris Card, chief operating officer for Lutheran Services. "We've had to lay off staff and reorganize our whole organization to support the public guardianships we have. It's not as robust a program as we want to offer them."

The moratorium means any elder unable to make decisions about where or how to live, and lacking enough money to live on, cannot be given protection by authorities unless attorneys and guardians take on the case for free. When wards placed in guardianships have enough assets to cover their expenses, those assets are used to pay the professionals who determine their fates. 

The agency has resorted to such a freeze before, because of shortfalls in donations during the Great Recession. During that two-year period, according to Sarasota guardianship director Anne Ridings, the total number of new adult guardianship cases in the 12th Judicial Circuit dropped by 25 percent.
(Continue Reading

Full Article & Source: 
Governor's veto strands indigent wards of state

Trial begins for former Philly judge accused of corruption


A lawyer for former Philadelphia Judge Willis W. Berry Jr. told a Common Pleas Court jury Monday that the criminal conflict-of-interest charges he faces were the result of retaliation by Berry's longtime secretary.

"There's no fury like a woman scorned," Nino V. Tinari told the jury in his opening statement.

Tinari said the state Attorney General's Office charged Berry only after his longtime secretary, Carolyn Fleming, went to the office after he fired her because she allegedly "siphoned $44,000" from his real estate business.

Berry, 72, is accused of using his judicial chambers and secretary, Fleming, to manage his private real estate business for much of his 16 years as a Common Pleas Court judge.

Prosecutors allege that Berry cheated Philadelphia taxpayers out of $110,000 using his judicial staff for his business.
That practice ended in 2007 with a judicial investigation of Berry following a series of Inquirer articles about how the judge moonlighted as a landlord and had court staff collect rent, repair 16 derelict properties, and handle real estate paperwork.

Berry was suspended without pay for four months in 2009 by the state's Court of Judicial Discipline on conflict-of-interest charges.

But Tinari, who is defending Berry with lawyer W. Fred Harrison Jr., blamed Fleming for Berry's problems and cast her actions as a betrayal of a man who hired her at 17, walked her down the aisle at her wedding, and named her in his will.

Tinari said that when Fleming followed Berry to the Criminal Justice Center in 1996 after his election, she got a "cushy" job where "if she worked four hours a day . . . that would be excessive."

Deputy Attorney General Daniel J. Dye said the evidence would prove that Berry conducted his personal business from chambers.

A first prosecution witness, Orlando Caquias, testified Monday that he usually dealt with Fleming, but twice talked with Berry in chambers about a Fairmount apartment he rented from the judge.
Dye told the jury of six men and six women that Berry's conduct was a theft of services he owed the taxpayers and conflict of interest.

"You're not here to run a property business, you're here to serve them," Dye added.

Despite Berry's 2009 suspension, no criminal charges were filed until May 2014, almost two years after he retired.

Berry's lawyers fought to get the charges thrown out, saying he was being prosecuted for an offense for which he had already been punished.

A month before the criminal charges were filed, the state Supreme Court suspended Berry's law license for a year and one day over an $180,000 civil fraud judgment in a lawsuit by a woman who said Berry fraudulently acquired title to a North Philadelphia property.

Berry considered a guilty-plea offer from state prosecutors, but rejected it after learning it could endanger the $6,010-a-month judicial pension he has drawn since he retired in September 2012.
Berry's trial is being held at the city's Criminal Justice Center - the same building where he served as judge - before Common Pleas Court Judge S. Gerald Corso, a senior judge from Montgomery County.

Full Article & Source:
Trial begins for former Philly judge accused of corruption

See Also:
Former Phila. Judge Willis W. Berry Jr. arrested on corruption charges

Ex-judge's lawyer questions corruption charges

Supreme Court suspends former Phila. judge's law license

Echo Press Editorial: How to stop elder abuse: Report red flags



It happens too often: An elderly person is financially preyed upon by a con artist, a relative or close friend.

But all the headlines that tell about such crimes should not make people numb to it. Instead, it should spark outrage and spur action and awareness. It starts with reporting any suspected financial abuse and exploitation of the elderly.

“Elder abuse comes in many forms, including physical maltreatment and neglect,” said Minnesota Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman. “But financial exploitation is considered the most common form of elder abuse, costing victims at least $2.9 billion annually. With a growing senior population and the aging of the baby boom generation, it’s become a leading crime of opportunity in the 21st century.”

Rothman said that seniors have become a prime target for crooks because they control an estimated 70 percent of the nation’s wealth. Age-related factors such as illnesses and cognitive impairment can make many older adults especially vulnerable to financial crimes and scams.

The commerce department has stepped up its efforts to protect Minnesota seniors from financial fraud and abuse. But it can’t address this pressing problem on its own. It needs the public’s help in bringing cases of suspected elder abuse to light.

“While one of the best lines of defense is prevention through education, a continuing challenge is that elder financial abuse is a crime that often goes unreported,” said Rothman. “Greater public awareness is needed to identify these crimes early on and help victims before they lose their hard-earned life savings.”

Rothman highlighted some possible warning signs of financial abuse of older adults:

• Unusual financial transactions that are inconsistent with past behavior.

• Uncharacteristic attempts to wire large sums of money.

• Unusual inability to pay for routine services like utilities or insurance.

• Closing of CDs or financial accounts without regard to penalties or fees.

• Large or frequent financial withdrawals, including maximum cash withdrawals from ATMs.

• A sudden change in the management of the older adult’s finances.

Rothman said that when these red flags show up, it may be a sign that someone is being victimized and it should be reported.

Douglas County area residents can report suspected elder financial fraud to the Commerce Department at 1-800-657-3602.

Minnesotans can also report suspected elder abuse, such as physical maltreatment or neglect, to their county’s designated Common Entry Point. To find a county’s Common Entry Point, people can call the Senior LinkAge Line at 1-800-333-2433.

Full Article & Source: 
Echo Press Editorial: How to stop elder abuse: Report red flags

Friday, July 24, 2015

The Vegas Voice: On My Soapbox, by Rana Goodman: Turning Our Back on a Veteran

by Rana Goodman
Let me tell you about a veteran named Cazee Lewis. Cazee is in his 80s and has cataracts. Some time ago, the VA agreed to surgically remove the cataracts, but since he is under guardianship, arrangements must be made through the private-for-profit guardian in charge of his life.

Nothing can be done to him or for him without the guardian's approval. And according to a report from the Senior Law Project (the "guardian ad litem") the guardian does not feel he needs this surgery. I guess she believes she has medical credentials now! There is nothing that can be done about that - short of contesting the guardian in court.

I sat in court and heard Hearing Master ask the representative from Faith Shari why Cazee was being given a drug that was not protocol for dementia patients. The representative never denied that Cazee was being given the drugs just that he was getting them at bed time.

A long-time friend has been attempting, to replace his current guardian (April Parks - the same guardian named in our page 8 editorial) so that she can move him to her home. 

The friend has generously offered to care for him one-on-one rather than the situation he is currently in.

Each time she has attempted to visit Cazee, the staff at Faith Shari tells her he is not there.
On her last attempt, she was told that written permission would be needed from the Senior Law Project.

WHAT?! To visit a friend?

Full Article and Source:
The Vegas Voice July Issue

Judges' disciplinary hearing still months away


BLOOMINGTON — A year after they were accused of violating rules of judicial conduct, two McLean County judges remain months away from a public hearing on the allegations related to their personal relationship.

In a July 2014 complaint from the Illinois Judicial Inquiry Board, judges Scott Drazewski and Rebecca Foley were accused of engaging in an undisclosed extramarital affair during the time Drazewski presided over a trial involving Foley's former husband, Joe Foley, a Bloomington lawyer.
Both judges have denied the allegations outlined in a 13-page complaint.

In their motion to dismiss the charges, Drazewski and Foley argued in September that the state lacks any evidence to prove that their relationship affected Drazewski's ability to be impartial in any cases he handled.

Foley contends that the accusations contain no facts that she, or any other judge aware of the relationship, were obliged to report Drazewski's alleged misconduct.

Judicial Inquiry Board lawyer John Gallo said Thursday that the state and attorneys for the judges have been engaged in the discovery process and that a hearing date could be set when lawyers discuss the case in September.

The detailed complaint outlines how the judges allegedly allowed their personal relationship to influence their judicial conduct and judgment. Drazewski was cited for his alleged failure to disqualify himself from the proceedings involving Foley's husband.

Foley's rule violation came after she did not initiate disciplinary measures against Drazewski when she became aware of his conduct, the complaint alleges.

It is not unusual for the complaint process to extend beyond a year with the state Judicial Inquiry Board. A confidential investigation precedes the filing of charges and is followed by a lengthy discovery process that allows each side to prepare for a public hearing before the state Courts Commission.

The Judicial Inquiry Board will serve as prosecutor at the hearing. Drazeweski and Foley each face potential sanctions of a reprimand, censure, suspension with or without pay, removal or retirement from office.

The judges, who are now divorced from their spouses, remain on the bench.

The filing of a formal complaint against a judge happens infrequently in Illinois. Between 1972 and 2014, a total of 89 complaints have been filed, including allegations against six judges in the 11th Judicial Circuit that includes McLean, Ford, Woodford, Logan and Livingston counties.  

Earlier this year, a state audit found that the Judicial Inquiry Board had a backlog of 311 pending complaints at the end of the 2014 fiscal year. Staff reductions left the agency struggling to deal with the more than 400 complaints forwarded to the board each year.  (Continue Reading)

Full Article & Source:
Judges' disciplinary hearing still months away

Caregiver accused of stealing $28K in jewelry from elderly patient


A home health care worker is accused of stealing her elderly patient's jewelry, worth $28,000, and pawning it, deputies said.

The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office arrested Barbara Royal, 32, on Tuesday.

According to an arrest report, Royal had just started work as an at-home health care worker for a Wellington woman for less than a week when the woman's daughter became suspicious of Royal.

She told deputies Royal started working with the family on July 9, and on July 15 the daughter decided to check around the house to see if anything was missing.

She discovered her mother's gold wedding band, a bracelet and a necklace were all missing. The jewelry is worth about $28,000, deputies said.

A search of the county's pawn shop database showed Royal had pawned the woman's ring on July 9. She received $190 for it, deputies said.

Royal is charged with grand theft, exploitation of an elderly person, dealing in stolen property and false verification of ownership.

Deputies said Royal also worked as a home heath care worker in other Palm Beach and Miami-Dade county homes and think she might have stolen from other people. They ask anyone who had Royal as a nurse and think they might be a victim to call Detective Krystal Gornall at 561-688-4043

She was released from the Palm Beach County Jail on Wednesday.

Full Article & Source:
Caregiver accused of stealing $28K in jewelry from elderly patient

Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Passing of Texas Advocate Latifa Ring

Latifa Sefiane Ring 1955-2015
Latifa Sefiane Ring, 59, of Houston went home to be with her Lord, Sunday, July 19, 2015. She was born December 23, 1955 in Morocco.

She is preceded in death by her father Al Cocannouer. Latifa is survived by her loving husband of 35 years, Stephen Ring: two children, Richard Ring and wife Angelica; Lisa Ring and Companion Isela Ornelas: grandson, Jason Ring; mother, Marie Cocannouer: sisters, Lenita Persohn and husband Joe, Leysha Cocannouer; many nieces, nephews, and her beloved extended family from The Childrens Haven of Morocco.

 A celebration of Latifa's life will be 2:00 PM Saturday, July 25, 2015 at Klein Funeral Home Chapel at 9719 Wortham Blvd. Houston, TX 77065. Visitation will be 1 hour prior to the service Saturday.

Source:
Latifa Ring Obituary

Guardianship Abuse Spreads to Pennsylvania


by Michael Volpe

A knock on the door from a bureaucrat has led to nightmare lasting more than two years: leaving the family matriarch alone, isolated, and drugged, her daughter accused of theft, and her other daughter on the brink of being removed from the family home.

In January 2013, Tivia Olson a representative of Montgomery County Aging and Adult Services (MCAAS) showed up on the front door of Lillian Gibson’s home telling her that MCAAS had received a complaint that she was being financially exploited.

Several weeks later, Gibson, who was living in a home she shared with her daughter, Jocelyn “Austin” Gibson, received a letter from Montgomery County Orphan’s Court stating that the elder Gibson was suspected of being incapacitated and a hearing was scheduled to determine if she should be placed into guardianship, the case wound up in the court room of Judge Stanley Ott.

In late February 2013, Gibson hired Gerald Clark, an elder law lawyer, as her attorney but Ott barred Clark from representing her instead appointing Diane Zabowski as her counsel.

In April 2013, Ott ruled Gibson to be incapacitated and placed her in guardianship. Rather than appointing a family member guardian, Ott appointed Kalpana Doshi of Adjustments, Inc., as her guardian.

Kalpana, Zabowski, and MCAAS, didn’t respond to phone calls for comment. Judge Ott’s office has previously told Rebel Pundit that he, as a matter of policy, doesn’t comment on ongoing cases.

Ott made this determination after Robert Slutsky, a local attorney who was acting as the solicitor for MCAAS, accused Gibson’s daughter, Dr. Alvianette Gibson-Kennedy, of misspending $136,000 of her mother’s money, said she was malnourished and being fed a steady diet of junk, and also claimed she was totally incapacitated.

Slutsky, according to a lawsuit filed by the Gibson family, then introduced testimony from Gibson’s family’s long-time physician Gerald Hansen.

Slutsky asked Dr. Hansen, “Do you think Mrs. Gibson could be financially exploited?”

“Yes,” Dr. Hansen replied, though that reply could apply to every human.

Slutsky, an attorney, then listed off a series of ailments which he claimed Gibson suffered from as further evidence she needed to be incapacitated.

Both Alvianette and Austin Gibson denied misspending their mother’s funds and mistreating her in multiple court filings.

“Reverend Kennedy refuted the ‘alleged bank/accounting documentation as being inaccurate and unsubstantiated, that is to say, that no element of the banking documentation was certified either by a CPA or other credible source,” according to a lawsuit filed by the family.

Though Slutsky accused Dr. Kennedy of major theft, his accusation was made strictly in orphan’s court and this evidence has never been presented to the county’s district attorney’s office.

In a previous Rebel Pundit expose from Chicago, the Cook County Public Guardian similarly accused Stacey Willis of theft of more than $30,000 of her mother’s money, but only made that charge during guardianship and didn’t report it criminally.

Initially while in guardianship, Lillian Gibson was allowed to continue to living in the family home she shared with her daughter Austin but in April, after the guardian complained that the elder Gibson missed repeated doctor’s appointments, Gibson was moved to a nursing home, Spring Meadows in Lansdale, Pennsylvania.

But Austin Gibson said this is not accurate.

“It was me who missed the appointments not my mother,” she said, something she made note of to several of the players in guardianship.

Full Article & Source:
Guardianship Abuse Spreads to Pennsylvania

See Also:
Guardianship Abuse Spreads to Pennsylvania Part 2

Guardianship Abuse Spreads to Pennsylvania

Boomers Beware of Guardianship Abuse

Harvey Whitten, Pennsylvania Victim

Pa. alleges patient neglect at 14 nursing homes


HARRISBURG >> A Phoenixville nursing home is among 14 named in a lawsuit by the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office alleging a failure “to provide basic services to elderly and vulnerable residents.”

The target of the lawsuit is Golden Gate National Senior Care LLC, the operator of 36 nursing homes in the state, including the 14 Golden Living centers listed in court documents.

Attorney General Kathleen Kane filed the 101-page complaint in Commonwealth Court Wednesday and encouraged others with complaints about Golden Living facilities to contact her office.

The court complaint names 14 Golden Living centers, located in Phoenixville, Lansdale, Harrisburg, Camp Hill, Altoona, Clarion, Gettysburg, Mount Lebanon, Monroeville, Philadelphia, Wilkes-Barre, Tunkhannock, Erie and Pottsville.

A spokeswoman for the Fort Smith, Arkansas-based parent company did not respond to telephone calls and emails left by The Associated Press on Wednesday.

The lawsuit alleges Golden Living deceived consumers through its marketing practices, falsified records about care and willfully deceived state inspectors, Kane said in a press release.

The company advertised it would keep its residents clean and comfortable while providing food and water at any time, Kane said, but its facilities were understaffed, leaving residents thirsty, hungry, dirty, unkempt and sometimes unable to summon anyone to help meet their most basic needs, such as going to the bathroom.

“As we allege, these companies profited at the expense of our most vulnerable residents,” Kane said. “These facilities promised to provide the care needed by residents and then failed to meet residents’ most basic human needs. That is simply unacceptable.”

Interviews with residents’ family members and former certified nursing assistants who worked at Golden Living facilities revealed a widespread pattern of understaffing and omitted care, the legal action states. Those allegations include the following:

• Continent residents left in diapers because they were unable to obtain assistance going to the bathroom.

• Incontinent residents left in soiled diapers, in their own feces or urine, for extended periods of time.

• Residents at risk for bedsores from not being turned every two hours as required.

• Residents not receiving range of motion exercises.

• Residents not receiving showers or other hygiene services as required.

• Residents being woken at 5 a.m. or earlier to be washed and dressed for the day.

• Residents not being timely dressed in order to attend their meals.

• Residents not being escorted to the dining hall and sometimes missing meals entirely.

• Long waits for responses to call bells or no responses at all.

• Staff, under the direction of management or fear of management, falsifying records to indicate residents received services when in fact they did not.

• Improved staffing when state inspections occurred, leading to deceit about the true conditions at the facility.

The number of certified nursing assistants at some Golden Living facilities was woefully inadequate to care for residents, many of whom are Medicaid enrollees paid for by taxpayers, Kane’s office said in the complaint. Basic care that was promised and paid for was never provided, the complaint said.

“Defendants’ staffing practices cost residents their dignity and comfort, and jeopardized their health and safety,” the attorney general’s complaint said.

The lawsuit said the parent company of the “enormously profitable” Golden Living facilities was “unjustly enriched” and it asked the court to order payback of that money from the 14 Golden Living centers named in the complaint.

The Phoenixville facility is located at 833A S. Main St. The Lansdale facility is located at 25 W. Fifth St.

Pennsylvania’s health secretary, Karen Murphy, said Wednesday she was “deeply concerned” by the allegations in the lawsuit and would step up efforts to improve the agency’s regulatory enforcement. The agency inspects 704 nursing homes across Pennsylvania with about 88,000 beds.

In the meantime, LeadingAge PA, a Pennsylvania trade association for not-for-profit providers of services for the elderly, said a Wolf administration plan to restructure Medicaid reimbursements would reward some of the state’s lowest-rated nursing homes, as well as 13 of the 14 Golden Living centers named in the complaint.

According to the attorney general’s office, managers at the Golden Living facilities pressured nursing assistants to ensure that paperwork showed no tasks undone and, in some cases, instructed that records be falsified.

“The Golden Living facilities knew or should have known that their records were not accurate, because it was impossible to deliver all of the care needed by their residents with the level of staffing available to provide such care,” the lawsuit said.

The Golden Living facilities also deceived Department of Health inspectors about the true conditions and level of care they provided by increasing staff levels during survey inspections, the attorney general’s office said.

“In reality, when DOH surveyors were not at the Golden Living Facilities, staffing levels went back down to normal levels and office and administrative staff rarely or never provided direct care to residents,” the lawsuit said.

Anyone with complaints concerning Golden Living facilities or other health care facilities is encouraged to contact the Office of Attorney General’s Health Care Section. Complaints may be filed at www.attorneygeneral.gov by selecting “File a Complaint” from the tool bar and then “Health Care.” Complaints may also be filed by calling the Health Care helpline at 877-888-4877.

A spokesman for the attorney general’s office said the investigation was ongoing.

Full Article & Source:
Pa. alleges patient neglect at 14 nursing homes

Casey Kasem's Ordeal Inspires Law to Curb Elder Abuse in CA

Broadcasting legend Casey Kasem’s children and their fight to see their ailing father before he died inspired a bill signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown.

The legislation, developed by Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Glendale, provides access for adult children who wish to visit a sick parent and offers legal recourse for children who are denied access by their parent’s spouse or another family member.

“Conflict among family members is the last thing our loved ones want to see as they approach their final hours,” Gatto said. “I hope this bill will help decrease the heartache and stress of families already facing difficult circumstances.”

Gatto said he was inspired by Kerri Kasem, who was denied visitation rights to her father, who died June 15, 2014, in Gig Harbor Washington at the age of 82.

“AB 1085 will provide hope to families experiencing isolation of a loved one by giving the court a way to provide visitation,” Kasem said, thanking Gatto for bringing more awareness to the issue of elder abuse.

The law gives judges authority to grant a conservator the power to enforce a senior’s right to visitors, calls and personal mail. It also requires caretakers to give notice of an elder’s death to certain family members.

Kasem’s three children from his first marriage accused his second wife of hiding the bedridden radio icon, who had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia.

Full Article and Source:
Casey Kasem's Ordeal Inspires Law to Curb Elder Abuse

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Dan Roberts, The Vegas Voice on Private Guardian April Parks: She Had the Dogs Killed

By: Dan Roberts - Publisher
"Any objective evaluation of her history in guardianship matters would lead to the conclusion that April Parks is an honest, capable and caring guardian for any person for whom she becomes responsible."

During the past eight months, The Vegas Voice featured articles regarding the Nevada guardianship laws and the private, for-profit guardianship industry. In our research and investigation, one guardian - April Parks, repeatedly kept popping up. In my previous columns, I labeled her the 'poster child' as to why the guardianship laws and court system had to be changed. Apparently, Ms. Parks did not take kindly to my assertions - hence the lawyer's letter. That initial sentence was one of many from her attorney, Bruce Woodbury (yep, that's the guy whose name is on the 215 Parkway) demanding that The Vegas Voice and yours truly cease and desist from any repetition of the accusations we made against her. Looking over our statements made against this guardian, we now add the following: dog killer.

These are the facts:
Over the last few years, April Parks placed some of her newly-acquired wards in an assisted living facility - Lakeville Terrace, located in Boulder City. However beginning in 2015 (and all within a few weeks) she pulled approximately a half-dozen seniors from this facility.

When doing so, she instructed Lakeville Terrace not to advise the seniors of the upcoming move.

The wards (mostly alone with their "family & friends" being the other occupants in the facility) were bluntly and firmly told that they were leaving immediately. Perhaps they had an hour's notice.

There was no medical or financial justification for this abrupt and sudden change of residence.

So much for guardian April Parks acting in their best interests as their "fiduciary."

Unfortunately for Lakeville Terrace, when Parks legally kidnapped them, she "forgot" to pay the bills for the wards - causing the facility to file criminal charges against her.

Lakeville Terrace did supply a statement about this that read in part: "Our management team was taken back and saddened by the effects of guardian April Parks and her actions to our residents and their families. We were however very pleased Lakeview Terrace was able to assist in bringing these irresponsible actions of guardian April Parks to the senior advocacy systems... "

Lakeville Terrace was apparently shocked (shocked) over the guardian's actions, and yet, do you really believe that the facility was unaware of Parks' operations and business practices? As long as their corporate pockets were being filled by her, they obviously had no problem. What hypocrites!

To date, The Vegas Voice and the new non-profit Nevada Association to Stop Guardian & Elder Abuse have been unable to determine where Parks moved these wards - but we know their names and we're still looking. Wait, it gets worse.. . Vegas Voice learned that two of the wards forced into this involuntary move had pets. And perhaps due to the new location unwilling to take the canines, April Parks or her employees and/or agents resolved this problem by forcefully separately and removing the dogs from their owners. You want to bet she made arrangements to have them dropped off at a kill shelter? You also want to bet that they were put down?

Consider the relationship between those seniors - basically all alone - with their only, but constant companion being their dog. Now imagine the horror and fear of these people being ordered to leave their "homes" while having their dog taken away and destroyed.

Full Article and Source:
The Vegas Voice July Issue

Boulder City police investigate guardianship cases



By Kean Bauman
 
Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- Contact 13 started investigating problems with the guardianship system nearly a year ago. Now, there are new revelations about one private, for-profit guardian who's been stripped of some power by Clark County District Court.

April Parks is now under investigation by Boulder City Police and Darcy Spears is exposing new allegations of fraud and misuse of funds by a woman said to be harming the people she's supposed to protect.

"I get very upset because it starts out wrong and it ends up getting worse," said Julie Belshe.

She recently won a hard-fought battle to get her parents, Rudy and Rennie North, back. Rudy and Rennie were under the control of private guardian Parks until Contact 13 exposed how she was double-dipping, overcharging, and misusing their money.

"That is an enormous problem! That is no technical problem," said Hearing Master Norheim in a recent hearing for the North's case. "That is a big, enormous, major problem!"

Parks was stripped of her control over the couple by the court, but it seems Rudy and Rennie aren't the only wards whose cases are raising red flags. Parks is now under investigation by Boulder City Police.

"Because it's our job to protect the elderly from mistreatment and exploitation," says Sgt. Aaron Johnson.

The police investigation involves the Norths and other wards who Parks placed at Lakeview Terrace Assisted Living. The Norths wound up at the assisted living facility after Parks knocked on the couple's door in 2013 and gave them three options.

According to Rudy, Parks told the couple that she could call the police, she could send the couple to a psychiatric ward, or they could choose to go to the assisted living facility.

Police say there's been a flurry of activity at Lakeview by private professional guardian Parks.

Recently, she has moved seven of her wards out of the facility leaving behind a trail of unpaid bills to the tune of more than $20,000.

A manager at the facility became concerned about the residents and notified police. According to the report, some were moved without notice and neither Lakeview nor the authorities know where they are.

"Some of these anomalies start popping up where you go, 'this is just not right'. Then we start to look at things a little bit deeper, take a little bit more aggressive stance on it," says Sgt. Johnson.

RELATED: Major overhaul in guardianship court

Sgt. Johnson says the investigation is just beginning, but he believes it extends beyond Boulder City's borders. "As a matter of fact, we believe it actually has extended into the Valley."

Meaning many more of Parks' wards could be affected. Julie Belshe worries about those who can't fight for themselves.

"It's very emotional for me personally to look at and see the people," says Julie. "It's not the money she owes them, it's the people. These poor people have to go and they have to get moved again.And they owe money and they get served with an eviction notice when you're 90 years old. Do you want that to happen to you? I don't want that to happen to me!"

We contacted Parks for this story but she hasn't returned our call.

Lakeview Terrace, who reported Parks' actions to police, provided this statement:

Lakeview Terrace Assisted Living and Memory Care has always and will continue to be an advocate for our state’s seniors. In response to your inquiry regarding guardianship, Lakeview Terrace Assisted Living and Memory Care followed the Health Care Quality & Compliance protocol. We would like to thank Judge Barker, Supreme Court Chief Justice James Hardesty, Clark County Commission Chair [Steve] Sisolak, The Bureau of Health Care Quality and Compliance, Boulder City Police, Division of Aging, Ombudsman and Elder Protective Services, Darcy Spears of Channel 13 News and many others for their contribution towards the protection of the rights of seniors throughout this state. We would like to give a special thanks to Karen Scioscia, a former family member and advocate for seniors in particular with Alzheimer Disease, for her willingness to step forward and help where she could.

Lakeview Terrace Assisted Living and Memory Care is a community located in Boulder City Nevada who is licensed to serve 86 seniors. Our management team was taken back and saddened by the effects of guardian April Parks and her actions to our residents and their families. We were however very pleased Lakeview Terrace was able to assist in bringing these irresponsible actions of guardian April Parks to the senior advocacy systems mentioned above. We hope that this information we provided will assist the justice system in helping avoid any future harmful actions to our seniors and their families living in the state of Nevada.

Lakeview Terrace Assisted Living and Memory Care will continue to serve seniors in any environment that supports our mission statement of “creating environments where moments of joy, independence and wellness are the focus each and every day. Lakeview Terrace Assisted Living and Memory Care does not have any connection with April Parks other than she represented a few of our residents.

Also, effective Monday as result of Darcy's Contact 13 Investigations, all adult guardianship cases were transferred to Family Court Judge Cynthia Diane Steel. Many families complained that the previous Hearing master and judge were rubber-stamping wrongdoing by private guardians and ignoring families.

Full Article & Source:
Boulder City police investigate guardianship cases

I-Team: Know about nursing homes' records before placing your loved one there



LAND O' LAKES, Fla. - It's a decision nobody wants to have to make: to put a loved one into a nursing home.

There are plenty of licensed nursing homes here Florida, but not all of them provide the same level of care.

“We had a perfect marriage,” said Larry Greenberg of Land O’ Lakes.

He spent 52 years with his late wife and best friend Judy, from the time they met as young teachers, until their retirement several years ago, when they moved to Pasco County.

“Now I'm lost. That's it. Nobody could replace her,” he said.

Judy's life changed forever last year when she was sent to Consulate Health Care of Bayonet Point for rehab after a hip replacement.

“They took a perfect woman and ruined her life, her retirement and everything we worked for,” said Greenberg.

Larry is now suing the nursing home for negligence, claiming Judy suffered loss of dignity, humiliation and bodily injury there.

He claims the nursing staff at the facility often was delayed when she asked for assistance going to the restroom.

Larry told police when help was delayed one day, Judy tried to go to the bathroom by herself, fell and broke her leg

“Now she's bedridden. And that started the downhill spiral,” said Greenberg.

“It's constant,” said nursing home abuse attorney Jim Wilkes has been fighting nursing home abuse for decades.

“We've seen people wander off and literally be eaten by alligators in ponds in back of the nursing home from lack of staffing,” he said.

This free, Medicare-operated website Nursing Home Compare, allows people to check out nursing homes before putting a loved one there. Learn more by following this link: http://1.usa.gov/1CHwbuM
 
It tracks data like staffing levels, where Consulate of Bayonet Point ranks "below average" because the nursing staff hours per-resident per-day measurement there is about 25 percent below state and national averages.
 
You can also find inspection reports, like one from six months after Judy's fall, where Consulate at Bayonet Point was cited for failing to follow a fall prevention plan for multiple patients.
 
Judy had already passed away by then.

While the medical examiner originally listed her cause of death as heart failure, her death certificate was eventually amended by the medical examiner to blunt trauma, as a result of ground level falls.
Consulate Healthcare, which operates 83 facilities in Florida, says it can't comment on pending litigation, but says the facility has good ratings and has won awards.

The home also fares well when it comes to use of antipsychotic medication, where the rate is 15 percent, compared to the state average of nearly 21 percent.

Since February, Nursing Home Compare has tracked the number of long-term patients who receive antipsychotic medication, which are drugs like Abilify, Seroquel and other medications intended to treat serious mental illnesses, including schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder.

Those drugs are not approved for treatment of elderly dementia patients and even carry an FDA Black Box Warning, saying they can increase the risk of death.

“What you're seeing is over sedation,” said Nursing Home Abuse Attorney Jim Wilkes, who has been taking on nursing homes for years.  (Continue Reading)

Full Article & Source:
I-Team: Know about nursing homes' records before placing your loved one there

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Linda Kincaid Reports: Family’s 4th request for investigation of kidnapping, isolation elder abuse


On June 5, 2010, Jean Swope’s front door was forced open. Jean was taken from her home and hidden from family at Wildwood Canyon Villa, an assisted living facility in San Bernardino County. Within days, Jean’s captors seized control of her entire estate worth over a million dollars. For fifteen months, Wildwood staff unlawfully isolated Jean from her loved ones. 

San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department substantiated that Jean’s estate was taken and that Wildwood isolated Jean from family. Then the Department determined that no crime was committed. Deputy District Attorney Tristan Svare told family, “There is nothing out of the ordinary.”

Jean’s family retained attorneys and investigators to establish the facts of the case. Records from caregivers contained evidence of repeated sexual assaults by a male caregiver. Medication records establish that Jean was chemically restrained with Ativan, Seroquel, and Haldol when she begged for help. Medical records show that Jean required emergency room treatment for vaginal bleeding and genital trauma.

For the past five years, Jean’s family has forwarded evidence to Sheriff John McMahon. For five years, family has requested an investigation into the abuse that Jean suffered the last years of her life. The letter below, like all previous letters to Sheriff McMahon, has received no reply.
March 11, 2015
Sheriff McMahon,

In July 2010, we requested investigations of kidnapping, false imprisonment, and forced isolation of my mom at an assisted living facility. The goal of those crimes was to convert my mom’s $1M estate for the benefit of a step-granddaughter. San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department (SBCSD) assigned Deputy Grant Ward, (Yucaipa High School Resource Officer) to investigate elder abuse. Deputy Ward determined that holding my mom against her will and denying contact with loved ones was not a crime. Deputy Ward further determined that conversion of my mom’s entire estate was a civil matter, not a crime.
In 2012, Deputy Ward testified under oath that he believed assisted living facilities have the authority to hold residents against their will and to forcibly isolate residents. Deputy Ward testified that he had no knowledge of the Residents’ Bill of Rights, which is incorporated into facility licensing regulations. There was no indication that SBCSD provided deputies with appropriate training on civil rights or elder abuse.
In June 2011 and September 2013, we requested SBCSD assign a competent officer to investigate the case. We specifically requested a deputy with training in elder abuse. There has been no response to those requests.
In 2013, California’s legislature passed AB 937 which clarified the conservatee’s right to visitation, phone calls, and personal mail. The bill was passed primarily because of extended isolation abuse of my mom, facilitated by SBCSD.
In 2014, California’s legislation passed AB 2171 which established a statutory Residents’ Bill of Rights for assisted living facilities. The bill was passed in part because of violation of my mom’s personal rights, facilitated by SBCSD.
In August 2014, November 2014, December 2014, January 2015, and February 2015, we requested investigations of possible sexual assaults against my mom by a male caregiver in the assisted living facility. There has been no response to those requests.
This letter is our fourth request for an investigation of kidnapping, false imprisonment, and financial abuse perpetrated against my mom. The document excerpts below show my mom’s progressive dementia, aggravated kidnapping by two tax preparers, and conversion of my mom’s entire $1M estate for the benefit a step-granddaughter.
To date, there has been no competent investigation of the crimes. Perpetrators remain at large and free to abuse with impunity.
The statute of limitation for most elder abuse crimes is five years. My mom was kidnapped on June 5, 2010, nearly five years ago. It would appear that your intent is to allow the statute to run, after which time an investigation of these crimes would be moot. Such a practice is very short-sighted and does not serve the residents of San Bernardino County.

Full Article & Source:
Linda Kincaid Reports:  Family’s 4th request for investigation of kidnapping, isolation elder abuse

Kim Birge pleads not guilty to Probate Court fraud charges


Former longtime Chatham County Probate Court Chief Clerk Kim Birge on Tuesday pleaded not guilty in federal court to stealing or embezzling more than $700,000 from the court over a three-year period.

“How does she plead to the charges in the indictment?” U.S. Magistrate Judge G.R. Smith asked Birge’s lawyer, Tom Withers, during her initial appearance.

“Not guilty,” Withers replied.

Smith allowed Birge, 61, to remain free on a $40,000 unsecured bond pending trial. That means she’s required to put up no money as part of the bond. Birge, who started with the court on July 19, 1982, had long been a stalwart in Probate Court, dating back to the administration of former Judge Robert Cook.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Scarlett Nokes told Smith the government did not object to a probation recommendation that Birge be released pending trial.

The judge noted “a confession to a gambling addiction problem” in Birge’s probation workup and later directed her to refrain from any gambling activity as a condition of her pre-trial release.

He also prohibited her from any alcohol use during the pre-trial period and ordered mental health and substance abuse evaluations.

Smith also told Birge to have no contact with any potential witnesses or victims in the case.

Birge was named May 18 in a five-count indictment including four counts of mail fraud by using the mail to defraud Chatham County out of $700,000 between January 2011 and November 2014 and then using the cash for her own benefit.

A fifth count charged federal program fraud. It alleged she stole about $767,218 between Jan. 1, 2014, and Dec. 31, 2014, from Chatham County involving a federal grant.

The count included the same funds and time frame as the mail fraud counts.

Included in the indictment is a forfeiture allegation in which the government says, if she’s convicted, it will try to recover “any property, real or personal” derived from the offense. That would include but not be limited to at least $767,218.

The indictment charged that Birge in her capacity as chief clerk of Probate Court was authorized to conduct transactions in at least two court bank accounts, but “was not authorized to conduct transactions in the Probate Court bank accounts for the benefit of herself or her family.”

It charges she would sign court orders to direct insurance companies, private businesses, public employers, banks and other entities to send funds to the court “for the benefit of minors and other individuals who had conservatorships” established in Chatham County.

A conservatorship establishes someone to watch out for money or property for minors or incompetents in the court.

Birge would then deposit fees paid to the court into one of two bank accounts maintained by the court and make representations that the money would be used for court matters, the indictment charged.

She would then forge the signatures of conservators and/or their attorneys to create false documents to disburse the money, would use the cash from negotiated checks for her personal use and would fail to disclose her activities to others in the court, the indictment charged.

Probate Judge Harris Lewis fired Birge on Dec. 2 in what was described as “in the best interests” of the court.

He had placed Birge on investigative suspension without pay Nov. 20 during a probe of “discrepancies with the services that you are responsible for handling,” Lewis said in a Nov. 20 letter.

As part of Lewis’ initial action, Birge has been barred from entering the Montgomery Street courthouse or discussing any matters related to the investigation “with anyone other than investigatory staff, unless otherwise directed to do so.”

Birge has not returned to the courthouse since she left Nov. 20.

The action came in wake of a reported federal/Savannah-Chatham police probe of undisclosed activity.

Full Article & Source:
Kim Birge pleads not guilty to Probate Court fraud charges 

See Also:
Former Probate Court clerk Kim Birge indicted in theft of more than $700,000 from the court

Livermore case puts spotlight on elder abuse

Linda Magel with picture of Jack Magel

By Jeremy Thomas

LIVERMORE -- It wasn't until a month after her father died that Linda Magel discovered something awry.

Sifting through boxes of bank statements, she realized $118,000 of her father's life savings was missing, withdrawn from a Chase Bank branch her father had never stepped foot in.

After a months-long investigation, it became clear that John "Jack" Magel, a Livermore resident who suffered from dementia and early onset Alzheimer's disease, had been swindled by a bank employee, who made off with a certificate of deposit worth $105,000 and other withdrawals using forged signatures. Magel, who wanted to pass the money to his heirs, died from cancer and Alzheimer's in March at age 91.

JP Morgan Chase eventually refunded the money but not without putting up a fight, Linda Magel said.

"He was an old man, a great guy, the most honest human being I've ever known in my life ... We haven't even had the emotional wherewithal to be able to mourn his death because this has been so encompassing," she said.

The swindling of Jack Magel is just the latest example of what some prosecutors are describing as a rampant problem, the defrauding of elders suffering from dementia or Alzheimer's disease by people they've come to trust. It comes in the wake of the sentencing of former Pinole police Officer Matthew Messier, who prosecutors say attempted to steal the $1.5 million estate of his Pleasanton neighbor, Jean Phyllis Jones. Through a plea deal, Messier will spend just two months in jail.

In Magel's case, a Pleasanton judge blocked a similar plea deal agreed to by attorneys that would have dropped a felony charge of financial elder abuse.

Former personal banker Alex Ojeda, 28, of Dublin, was set to plead guilty to a felony charge of grand theft on Feb. 11, which would have sent him to County Jail for four months, given him five years' probation, and reduced the felony to a misdemeanor if he reimbursed the bank for the full amount within three years.

However, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Christine Moruza refused to approve it, to the dismay of Ojeda's attorney, Phil Schnayerson, who argued that Ojeda already had put $58,000 into a trust fund with the intent of paying back the full amount.

"So, because (Ojeda)'s paid back half of the $118,000, he doesn't have to take an elder abuse charge?" Moruza said incredulously. "I don't agree ... I'm sorry."

The judge's decision was met with applause from Magel's family, who believe Ojeda should have a criminal record precluding him from working at another bank.

Ojeda, who is due back in court March 2, refused to talk about his case. His attorney said the plea deal came as a result of an agreement with prosecutors that the crime was more a case of theft than elder abuse.

Alameda County Deputy District Attorney Jerry Herman would not comment on the case.

The district attorney charged Ojeda, who left Chase in 2013, with three felony counts of financial elder abuse in December.

In early 2013, according to a police report, Ojeda, with the help of other tellers, made two cash withdrawals totaling $13,600 and later withdrew the exact amount of Magel's CD just two days after it matured, using it to purchase a cashier's check for $105,237 at the Chase Bank branch on First Street. That check was immediately split into two cashier's checks, one for $70,000 and the other for the remainder, which Ojeda deposited into his mother's bank account.

Magel's driver's license and debit card information were manually entered by the employees, and Magel was not present for the transactions, the report concludes.

In the report, Ojeda later admitted to investigators that he had taken the money but said that it had been a gift from Magel, whom Ojeda claimed had been present at the time of the transactions. Ojeda also told detectives he had used some of the money to invest in real estate, according to the report

According to Livermore police Detective Elaine Briggs, police and a Chase fraud investigator tracked the activity to Ojeda through his personal key code, which had to be put in for each transaction. Ojeda, she said, was able to cash in the CD using forged signatures, even though the checks required a manager's approval.

Briggs said supervisors had relied on Ojeda's word and likely overlooked the approval. Linda Magel is convinced other employees were involved in the scam, but Briggs said there wasn't enough evidence to charge any others.

As disturbing as the thefts were to Magel, equally so was the response she received from Chase, which initially denied any responsibility and wouldn't allow her to file a claim to get the money back. After Magel reported the crime to police, bank officials wouldn't allow employees to be interviewed by police without a Chase fraud investigator present, according to the police report.

Magel then filed an affidavit with Chase's claims department, and in July the bank denied the claim in a form letter saying too much time had passed for the funds to be eligible for reimbursement. Magel responded by filing a complaint with Department of Treasury and sent a letter to JP Morgan Chase CEO James Dimon threatening legal action. The following month, Chase refunded the money with interest, but Magel contends that the bank should have paid additional interest that would have accrued had the money been left untouched.

Local bank employees said they were not authorized to speak about the case. JP Morgan Chase officials said they would not comment on an active legal case but issued the following statement: "When we learned about the customer's concern, we investigated and worked with police. We reimbursed the amount with interest and apologized to the customer."

Full Article & Source:
Livermore case puts spotlight on elder abuse

Monday, July 20, 2015

Steve Miller: Pictures from The Vegas Voice Seminar on Guardianship Fraud

On Tuesday evening, July 14, The Vegas Voice sponsored a seminar on guardianship fraud at the Anthem Community Center in Henderson, Nevada.

Featured speakers included Vegas Voice publisher Dan Roberts, Vegas Voice Political Editor and columnist Rana Goodman, guardianship abuse victim Julie Belshe, and AmericanMafia. com columnist Steve Miller.

Over 150 Anthem residents attended to hear the speakers explain the new laws recently enacted to prevent guardian abuse, and to be cautioned that abusive guardians and their enabling Clark County Family Court judges and guardianship commissioner are still in office and may resurface to again bilk wealthy elderly residents of Anthem and other local retirement communities in the future, or as soon as news coverage of their crimes die down.

On Wednesday (today), the newly enacted Nevada Supreme Court Guardianship Committee will meet for the first time in Las Vegas and Carson City. Topics will include ways of preventing the local for-guardian industry from continuing to bilk the elderly, and how to prevent them from gaining power of attorney over wealthy elderly retirees lives with help from the family court. - SM








Steve Miller: Synopsis of First Meeting of Nevada State Guardianship Panel

I attended the first meeting of the commission on Monday on behalf of our family and many other victims. Chief Justice James Hardesty presided and all 25 commissioners were present either in person or telephonically. The victims were well represented with 8 families speaking during public comments and both KTNV Channel 13 ABS News and Las Vegas Review Journal present. Below are links to their reports, as well as Steve Miller’s report and pictures from the Review Journal of Judges William Voy, Cynthia Diane Steel, appointed to the commission for Clark (8th District) County and Nevada Supreme Court Chief Justice James Hardesty (l to r) and Washoe(2nd District) County Presiding Family Court Judge Frances Doherty and Elko (4th District) County Family Court Judge Nancy Porter.

The next meeting is set for August 17, 2015 from 1:30pm-4:30pm at the Clark County Regional Justice Center. The public is again invited. 

KTNV ABC News-Sparks Fly at First State Guardianship Commission Meeting 7/15/15

LasVegasReviewJournal-Ex Official of Clark County Guardianships says System "isn’t-bad" 7/15/15

State Guardianship Commission Holds First Meeting 7/14/15

AmericanMafia-Inside Vegas - Shafer's Cronies Elyse Tyrell And William Voy on Commission 7/6/15

Chief Justice Hardesty explained his objective with the commission is to rate all aspects of Nevada’s adult guardianship adjudication process versus national best practices and give it a grade and make recommendations on actions that will be taken to improve the system before they disband in December 2015. Does Nevada’s approach not meet, meet, or exceed national best practices for guardianship adjudication? There was discussion and comparison on how the courts manage guardianships across the districts represented. The disparity between Clark County’s approach and the rest of the state was concerning. Most of the members were given assignments to research the many topics discussed to present in the next meeting.

 Topics ranged from:
1)court management,
2)initial petition appointing guardian (PAG) requirements,
3)incognizance confirmation,
4)ward’s representation and protecting the best interests of both their person and estate,
5)criminal enforcement of fraud or wrongdoing by family court officials,
6)managing court notifications, deadlines and follow-up,
7)insuring timely and accurate initial inventories and annual accountings, and others.

Justice Hardesty stimulated a positive discussion on how cavalierly guardianships have been assigned, which fully remove the Wards civil rights and ability to protect their estates, yet the criminal court requires a much higher proof of wrongdoing to indict suspects. Judge Doherty presented a very poignant position that in the 2nd district they work with priority to protect the 1)family, 2)Ward’s property, and 3)the Ward’s rights. As hundreds have experienced in Clark County the last 20 years, family is seldom a priority and even less so when there are $100,000’s at stake.

To highlight that, Jared Shafer, current private professional guardian and former Public Guardian of Clark County, spoke last in the public comments. Judge Steel had been asked to leave the room as most of the public comments related to ongoing litigation in her court. Shafer demanded Judge Steel return to the meeting before he spoke as he claimed he had no cases before her. (Jared Shafer has 75 open cases, 43 of which are being heard by Judge Steel, 32 in probate.) Chief Justice Hardesty honored his request. Shafer immediately went on a tirade about how the press was misrepresenting him, “there’s never been a problem with the system”, and the real issue was with the whiney families as “they’re upset because they didn’t get their loved ones’ money”. Before he finished and exited the room he highlighted his good intentions the past 35 years and pointed out commission members Judge Voy and attorney Elise Tyrell would be happy to defend and speak for him. (Both, Elyse Tyrell currently and Judge Voy prior to becoming a judge, have represented Jared Shafer.) At the end of the meeting each panel member was asked to speak on their observations of the day and specific improvement actions they wanted the commission to take.

 Many great ideas were highlighted but there was an overwhelming observation by many that there are major issues on protecting families, wards rights, and ward’s estates that must be addressed. Judge Voy, Elyse Tyrell, and Julie Arnold public comments were striking as all concurred with Jared Shafer that the Clark County adult guardianship system has worked well. ~Rick Black

Kan. couple sentenced for financial exploitation of disabled daughter


ATCHISON – (June 9, 2015) – An Atchison couple was ordered yesterday to pay restitution related to financial exploitation of their adult disabled daughter according to Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt.

Nancy Ann Thummel, 44, and Dennis Joseph Thummel, 48, the biological father of the victim, were ordered by District Judge Martin Asher to pay $308,518.55 in restitution to their dependent adult daughter. Asher also sentenced Nancy Thummel to 24 months probation with an underlying sentence of 12 months in prison and Dennis Thummel to 24 months probation with an underlying sentence of 30 months in prison.

The charges stemmed from an investigation by the Atchison Police Department, which revealed that between July 2007 and September 2012 the Thummels regularly withdrew money from their daughter’s bank account for their own personal spending including gambling, purchasing a car and other recreational vehicles. In April, Nancy and Dennis Thummel each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit theft in amount greater than $100,000. Dennis Thummel pleaded guilty to additional charges that included three counts of mistreatment of a dependent adult and three counts of theft.

Assistant Attorneys General Robert Novak, Adrian Serene and Jackie Williams of Schmidt’s office prosecuted the case.

Full Article & Source:
Kan. couple sentenced for financial exploitation of disabled daughter

Thorner: White House Conference on Aging abuses elders by ignoring injustice


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By Nancy Thorner - 

Several weeks ago Tom Field, a 25-year advocate of legal reforms for the elderly and for fixing what is a broken elder care system, reached out to me via a phone call from his home in Mantor, Ohio, to inquire whether I was interested in pursuing the topic in light of the upcoming 5th White House Conference on Aging scheduled for Monday, July 13, held once every decade since 1961. Field’s overture was initiated upon his reading of my July 9, 2011 article titled, "Allegations of Alleged Corruption and Abuse in the Probate Court Level in Cook County, IL." 

A positive response at the time to Tom Fields prompted me to write the following two articles, both of which were published at Illinois Review Article 1:  "Thorner:  Elder Justice Act under Obamacare fails seniors - Part 1" and  Article 2: “Thorner: White House Conference on Aging:  Will Elder Justice be addressed sufficiently?”

Having initially expressed doubt that anything worthwhile would be realized from the conference, it  became apparent that the question I addressed in the second article, "Will Elder Justice be addressed sufficiently?," was deserving of a big, fat zero, an opinion verified when Tom Fields shared this post-conference email:
This tweet sum up much of what can be reported about the conference: Shame on #WHCOA and its Elder Justice Panel for refusing to address abuse by legal professionals and professional guardians
Post Conference Disappointment and Anger

It can be concluded from other post-conference e-mail reports that Tom Fields and others did their best before the July 13th WHCOA, and during the conference itself, to address the current rampant abuse by legal professional guardians.  Mr. Fields, wishing he could have applauded the conference for doing so, instead encountered a conference that never touched upon the topic, the same having occurred in nearly every other such forum conducted by the administration's government. They include the Elder Justice Coordinating Council that was created by the Elder Justice Act (and mentioned during the conference); the Administration on Aging (and its parent, Health and Human Services); and the U.S. Senate’s Special Committee on Aging.

As Mr. Fields wrote in one of his e-mails:
"Not only did the WHCOA refuse to address such abuse, but it impeded efforts by myself and others from doing so.  How?  First by demanding that I stop circulating a handout at the regional forum which I attended, and second by refusing to share tweets which I and others sent during the conference."

In that the conference could and should have tried to help advocates like Tom Fields network with other advocates, it didn’t accomplish this. Instead, it pushed its own agenda, one which deliberately ignored the issue identified by the tweet noted above, further exemplified by this 3-minute ABC News video presented on-line, which the conference refused to play and discuss.

As the video is a mere three minutes long, it is inexcusable that three minutes wasn't allotted during the 50-minute Elder Justice Panel in a conference that lasted 7+ hours. Had the video been played, it would have demonstrated how current laws, including APS laws, failed to prevent a stroke victim from being taken advantage of in a hospital emergency room.

Why these laws failed in this case is discussed in this short, 2-page PDF file. The emphasis there is on the lack of a very simple mechanism, one based upon a checklist, needed in such settings to alert affected family members and authorities.  It would seem that no scam should be simpler to prevent than one which take place in the emergency room of a hospital, yet our government and professional associations have repeatedly proven themselves unequal to this task.

As to the history of the 3-minute video presented on-line by ABC News, it was initially posted by Tom Field at his own website in the aftermath of how his own father was similarly taken advantage of by a lawyer 25 years ago in a hospital just hours before he died of cancer, as testified by the doctor who had started him on a morphine drip and Do Not Resuscitate order.

The doctor's testimony is summarized here; it is also reproduced in full beginning at this site and linked there to the other evidence, including the testimony of the defendant and others involved in this incident, including several attorneys.  A brief summary of all this and more can be seen here.

Fields not alone in observing WHCOA indifference toward Elder Care and Reform

Tom Fields wasn't the only individual who had post-conference feelings of disappointment and angry because the WHCOA’s Elder Justice Panel didn't mention the rampant abuse by professional guardians and the probate system.  After all, this was an issue addressed prior to the conference!

Comments by Fields and others can be found here as displayed by the WHCOA, along with its Elder Justice Policy Brief.

An acquaintance of Tom Fields, who asked to remain anonymous, expressed these concerns after watching the entire White House Conference on Aging:
I was likewise disappointed/angry that the elder justice panel did not mention abuse by professional guardians and the probate system. The suggestions provided by the panel on how the banking industry and others could address financial abuse were unrealistic. 
Although the monograph on elder financial abuse developed by the WHCOA cited a family member as being the number one cause of financial abuse of an elder, the panel did not address how to handle this problem. Better trained prosecutors is a start, but won't help in the case of guardianships, as it is all after the fact. Further, if a family member tries to intervene and stop financial abuse, the probate judges, not wanting to take the time to sort things out, take the easy way out by appointing a professional guardian.
Elderly Guardianship Situation is a Disaster
Excellent insight was shared by Sam Sugar, M.D. with Thorner about the current Abusive Probate Guardianship situation via a telephone interview which Dr. Sugar willingly consented to on Wednesday, July 15.  Dr. Sugar, like Tom Fields, was an active participant in pre-conference activity and likewise followed closely the entire July 13th WHCOA event.

Sam J. Sugar, M.D. PC, heads "Americans Against Abusive Probate Guardianship” with members in 25 states.  His former position was as Attending Physician at the Pritikin Longevity Center in Doral Florida.  Prior to that he was Medical Director at Evanston Northwestern Healthcare in Evanston, Illinois.  Dr. Sugar graduated from the University of Illinois College of Medicine and is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians and a member of the Florida Medial Society.  He retired from active practice in 2013.

Per our conversation:  Dr. Sugar attended a Private Watch Party as the event was unfolding at the White House.  After tweeting the WHCOA dozens of times, Dr. Sugar concluded that the WHCOA was simply a political PR stunt, clarified when a woman speaking at the event noted how the same problems that existed 10 years ago still exist.  In fact, offered Dr. Sugar, the situation is much worse today. Noted was how the elderly guardianship situation is a disaster. With massive number of cases where the same "playbook" of litigation, medicate, isolate, take the estate is used by greedy lawyers and guardians. The cases predictably end up where both family and the elderly ward are losers.

According to Dr. Sugar, no one knows for sure how many wards there are nationally, but government estimates range between 1-1/2 and 3 million.  Sugar places the responsibility for this rampant copy-cat abuse, neglect, and exploitation at the footstep of the state judiciaries. Among the worst states for judicial guardianship abuse are:  Texas, Colorado, Nevada, and Florida.  As stated by Dr. Sugar:  “What is happening is an outright theft of an individual's entire estate under ‘color of law.’”  Furthermore, “the failure to protect elders is generated by the willingness of jurists to allow the weaponization of state laws.”   (Continue Reading)

Full Article & Source:
Thorner: White House Conference on Aging abuses elders by ignoring injustice

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Effects of Psychiatric Drugs



These psychiatric drugs are not of small risk but instead cause massive changes in the way the brain functions. Long term studies have indicated that there are severe debilitating and sometimes fatal effects of these drugs. Possible negative effects were minimized or not even discussed at all. There are risks of long term psychological harm, physical harm, social harm and economic harm. Many of these drugs cause symptoms that can themselves be construed as mental illness.The probability of developing Parkinsons’ like symptoms is also great.  

NIDS - Neuroleptic Induced Deficit Syndrome:  
Neuroleptic Induced Deficit Syndrome (NIDS) can be caused by these medications which change in emotional awareness, sense of aliveness, and in the speed, and clarity of thought. The treatment effects felt by many people who have taken these medications are described as feeling like a zombie. Neuroleptic effect is present when the following features are observed:

1. Psychomotor Retardation – motor slowing, body not moving so well
2. Emotional indifference - not being emotionally responsive / not caring
3. Reduced initiative – not showing interest in initiating activity
4. Slowing of thought

As the dose of the medication increases, and more time elapses, it appears that the effects change – from sedative effects, into anti-psychotic effects, and possibly into other less desirable side effects; akathisia (restless leg syndrome), emotional parkinsonism (emotional blunting) and on into some other unwanted side effects. It is not uncommon when the first symptoms appear like apathy, emotional indifference, motor slowing or slow mentation that these were attributed to the underlying condition of the patient (the patient’s disease) when really they are the effects of the medication itself. A patient on these medications can initially demonstrate an improvement in symptoms only to later over time have that initial improvement go away or to only reach a certain point and then plateau or level off. There is also one more important one effect: neuroleptic dysphoria – which is like depression. When this happens when patients are often given even higher dosages of the drugs, leading to even more severe effects.

Many of the symptoms that are used to justify hospital treatment may actually be caused by the psychiatric medications given. So continuation of these medications only creates a self-filling prophecy that furthers the financial goals of the hospital institution and may cause further permanent brain damage.

The Real Truth about Outcomes on Psychiatric Medications

These  drugs, over time, produce these results:
a) They increase the likelihood that a person will become chronically ill.
b) They cause a host of debilitating side effects.
c) They lead to early death.  (Continue Reading)

Full Article & Source:
Effects of Psychiatric Drugs