NASGA is a public interest civil rights organization founded by several victims and for victims of unlawful and abusive guardianship and conservatorship cases. Please visit our website at www.StopGuardianAbuse.org for more information on how you can help stop guardian abuse.
It was General Sessions Judge Casey Moreland who entered a courtroom in handcuffs on Tuesday, the chains binding his ankles clanking on the tile floor of Nashville’s federal courthouse.
"Do you understand what you're charged with and the possible punishment?" federal Magistrate Judge Joe Brown asked him.
"Yes sir," 59-year-old Moreland replied, seated in a button-down shirt and khakis next to his lawyer, Peter Strianse of Nashville. Asked for comment as he was leaving the courtroom, Moreland did not respond.
An FBI investigation of Moreland came to a head Tuesday, when federal officials announced the judge had been charged. That prompted Mayor Megan Barry to suggest the judge should resign, and Metro Council members took an initial step to call for his departure.
Moreland stands accused by the FBI of trying to bribe a woman to recant allegations against him by offering her $6,100, and conspiring with a confidential source to plant drugs on her in an apparent attempt to smear her credibility.
"The allegations set forth in the indictment set forth egregious abuses of power by a judge sitting here in Nashville," acting U.S. Attorney for Middle Tennessee Jack Smith announced in a Tuesday morning news conference.
Court documents say Moreland was charged with attempting to obstruct justice through bribery, witness tampering and retaliating against a witness. The charges carry an up to 20-year prison sentence.
Strianse argued in court Tuesday that federal law did not allow for the government to hold Moreland in custody, as Assistant U.S. Attorney Cecil VanDevender asked. Brown said Moreland would remain in custody at least until a hearing set for Friday afternoon.
“He’s obviously in a bit of a state of shock,” Strianse said of Moreland. “He certainly didn’t expect to be awoken by the Federal Bureau of Investigation this morning at 6 a.m. with a search warrant. They went to his sister’s home where he’s been living.”
The FBI investigation into Moreland, a judge since 1998, related to allegations that he helped people he knew in exchange for benefits including sexual favors, travel and lodging. Among the allegations documented in police reports and accounts were that he intervened in a traffic stop for a woman he had a personal relationship with and waived jail time for his future son-in-law.
While people often dream of retirement and enjoying their golden years, many elderly citizens are living the nightmare of being a victim of financial and exploitation crimes.
These crimes can involve the illegal or improper use of a senior citizen’s funds, property or assets, as well as fraud or identity theft perpetrated against older adults. However , the number of times financial crimes against the elderly occur is hard to establish because it is a crime that tends to go unreported.
“In the first two months of 2017, we had approximately six cases regarding exploitation of the elderly lead to arrests,” Dothan Police Lt. Will Glover said . “Additional cases were investigated, but no arrests were made. Over the years, we’ve had several cases involve family members taking advantage of elderly family members, or caregivers taking advantage of the one they are suppose to be taking care of. We also have cases where it was just someone that was hired to do a job for an elderly resident and , in the end, the individual was charged an extremely higher amount then originally agreed. This is a crime that , over the years, we will continue to see increase.”
According to Glover, it is a good idea to have multiple individuals listed on accounts. By listing more than one individual on the account, the account records are accessible to more than person, m eaning additional eyes are overseeing accounts.
“One major piece of advice I can give family members who have a parent or sibling being looked after by a friend or family member is always make a point to stop and visit your family member,” Glover said. “If you are familiar with your family member’s habits, make a point to check on them. If that family member looks unclean , file a complaint. If you notice past due notices lying around and this is something out of the ordinary, check your family member’s financial records. If that family member does not have the necessary items needed for personal hygiene, food or needed medications, file a complaint. To file a complaint, call your local Department of Human Resources. Once a complaint is filed, someone will be sent over to check on the welfare of the family member. If wrong doing seems to play a factor, the police department is notified, and we start an investigation.”
Some cases have been reported of financial fraud involving a chosen financial power of attorney.
“There is a lot of power in being named financial power of attorney,” said Alabama Department of Human Resources Adult Protective Services worker Summers Hall. “It is very important to make sure the individual who serves as a power of attorney is someone who can be trusted. It is always a good idea to establish an oversight. Individuals may want to include a statement of your power of attorney fiduciary duty in your legal document and require your agent to sign the document which acknowledges his or her acceptance of the fiduciary duty. It also never hurts to require your power of attorney to send regular accounting to additional trusted family members for looking over. Most importantly, remember, you can change your mind regarding who you selected to serve as your power of attorney.”
Bell also reminds family members to discuss with the dangers of having cash lying around in their home.
“Cash puts the elderly in danger,” Bell said. “The elderly need to be very careful who they let in their home. They also need to be very careful who they entrust their debit or credit cards to. Giving a debit card to someone gives them complete access to your bank account. Releasing credit card information also allows someone to write down the information off the card allowing them to purchase items online, not to mention purchasing items for themselves while they are supposed to be purchasing items for who they are looking after. That is what we are seeing an increase in.”
Bell also stated many financial crimes and exploitation of the elderly cases go unreported due to embarrassment.
“In some cases, we have seen older males not want to report a case of being a victim,” Bell said.
“They are embarrassed, and they should not be. However, they look at it as all the years they worked hard and here comes someone they believed they could trust and they fall victim to this crime. They should not be embarrassed. They should report it. The more reports that are made against this crime, the better off our elderly will be.”
According to Houston County Probate Judge Patrick Davenport, financial and exploitation crimes are increasing everywhere.
The state's top Probate Court administrator said Monday that new reforms are needed to protect the elderly and mentally ill from abuse.
Probate Court Administrator Paul J. Knierim and lawmakers said more needs to be done to prevent fraud and deception by corrupt court-appointed conservators. At a press conference and hearing Monday they spoke in support of a reform bill moving through the legislature.
"We need to root out as many of those bad apples ... as we can," said Rep. Steven Stafstrom, D-Bridgeport, vice-chair of the legislature's judiciary committee.
Conservators appointed by state probate courts are handling financial matters for an estimated 20,000 elderly, disabled and mentally ill Connecticut residents with assets of more than $350 million, probate officials said Monday.
Preventing abuse by these court-appointed conservators — some of whom have stolen tens of thousands of dollars from the elderly and mentally ill people they swore to protect — is the goal of the probate reform bill.
"There is no more important responsibility ... than the duties of a conservator," Knierim said Monday.
He said that the vast majority of Connecticut conservators are honest and dedicated to providing their charges with everything from housing, to medical care and nutrition, in addition to handling financial matters.
Proposed reforms include random state audits of conservator accounts and tougher ethical standards.
Knierim said in the past five years, the probate system has seen a 58 percent increase in the number of mental health cases requiring conservators.
This isn't the first effort to reform the probate system. Knierim said legislation was passed in 2007 to give probate judges authority to order audits of questionable conservator accounts.
The new legislation has been triggered in part by recent high-profile cases of conservators stealing money from the people they were appointed to help.
Last August, a 67-year-old disabled man from Wethersfield named John Fritz received a $10,000 settlement of a lawsuit against a court-appointed conservator. Michael Schless, a retired lawyer from Newington now living in Florida, pleaded guilty to first-degree larceny for stealing money from Fritz. Schless, 78, received a 10-year-suspended sentence and had to surrender his law license.
Fritz, whose family began noticing in 2012 that his finances were being drained away, has recovered $60,000 of the money taken by Schless. The judge in the case said when sentencing Schless that the scandal showed "the court system is not perfect and this is a dishonorable day for the court system."
At Monday's hearing, one harsh critic of Connecticut's probate courts testified against the proposed reform. Jeryl Gray, who claims her mother has been financially abused by the conservator system, argued that a failure to enforce existing laws has led to "extreme atrocities" against people like her mother. Gray said passing a new "sham bill" wouldn't change a corrupt system.
If passed by the General Assembly, the new legislation would take effect Jan. 1, 2018. Knierim said the 15-20 random audits each year are expected to cost $30,000.
"The risk of abuse is too high," Tong said, "and we must take steps to make sure that conservators … are held to the highest ethical and fiduciary standards."
Doyle said the closing in recent years of institutions caring for the mentally ill has resulted in a dramatic increase in the number of people with mental health issues needing the help of conservators.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Davidson County General Sessions Judge Casey Moreland was arrested Tuesday morning by FBI agents, accused of attempting to obstruct a federal investigation.
A criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court accuses the 59-year-old Moreland of attempting to bribe a witness in an on-going FBI investigation into his conduct and suggesting that drugs be planted on that witness in an attempt to discredit her.
Acting U.S. Attorney Jack Smith said the allegations amount to "egregious abuses of power by a judge sitting in Nashville."
"Such an abuse of power," Smith added, "undermines the credibility of and destroys the public's trust in the court system and strikes at the very essence of our judicial branch of government."
The FBI investigation began January 25.
Moreland's conduct had been the focus of a NewsChannel 5 investigation after a police review of a young woman's suicide exposed his illicit affair with one young woman and allegations that he had intervened in a criminal case involving another woman who later committed suicide
Thousands of text messages obtained by NewsChannel 5 Investigates reveal Moreland intervened in the traffic stop last June involving his mistress, Natalie Amos. He also interceded in a criminal case involving Amos to help her get out of fines that had been imposed against her.
Amos appears to have been the target of the bribery attempt, as well as the scheme to plant drugs in her vehicle.
The Metro Police investigation into the suicide last May of the second woman, Leigh Terry, brought up several disturbing allegations. One is that Moreland had sex with a woman in his chambers in exchange for favorable treatment in her DUI case.
"She told me right then that she had sex with Casey Moreland in the chambers and that's what kept her out of jail," Terry's friend, Roy Matlock, said during an interview with Metro Police.
Prosecutors say the plan to ask that Moreland be held without bond.
Tuesday afternoon, Mayor Megan Barry released the following statement:
"Nashville deserves to have absolute trust in our judiciary, and Casey Moreland, based upon the allegations in the federal complaint, seems to have clearly violated that trust. Like all Americans, Judge Moreland deserves the chance to defend himself in court. However, resigning his position now would seem to be in the best interest of the Nashvillians who depend upon the integrity of our General Sessions Court judges to rule in a fair and unbiased manner.”
FLORENCE, Ala. - A woman faces more than 100 felonies in Florence for taking advantage of a family member. Investigators say the charges range from credit card fraud to selling the victim's car.
Investigators call financial exploitation of the elderly a disturbing crime, and one they are seeing an increased number of cases in. The latest case in Florence had been going on for months before being discovered.
Jennifer Hipps, 38, is the latest to be arrested. Florence Police say they have worked countless hours tracking down financial records in the case.
"At this time we are able to prove approximately $15,000 based on credit card statements, but there is potentially more," said Florence Police Detective Justin Wright.
Detective Wright says Hipps was entrusted to take care of an elderly family member.
"She had extended credit cards; she had renewed credit cards that had since been closed. She opened various credit cards and loans in her name," said Wright. "A few weeks ago she was arrested, she had sold her car and forged the bill of sale as well."
Wright says Hipps left the family member almost penniless. He says prosecutors take this type of crime very seriously.
"Fortunately the state has taken a stand on financial crimes and also physical crimes against the elderly," said Wright. "We have drafted new laws for financial exploitation and also physical abuse. And the state will aggressively pursue any of the crimes against the elderly."
In all, Hipps faces 136 felony charges related to the financial exploitation of her elderly family member. She remains in the Lauderdale County Detention Center on bail totaling $143,000. Investigators say more charges could be filed against Hipps as the investigation continues.
SHARON, Mass. - A hidden camera captured a 93-year-old great-grandmother being tossed around and her hair pulled in a Sharon nursing home and rehab last week.
The video, set up by her family in her room at Wingate at Sharon, shows two women toss the elderly resident into her wheelchair. The resident, whose family, has identified her only as Dorothy, then struggles to maintain her balance. “Get the hell away from me,” Dorothy says. “You think you’re pretty smart,” as one aide shows Dorothy her fist. Seconds later, the other aide grabs her hair from behind and yanks her head around.
The video from March 5 begins with Dorothy, who has dementia, swearing at and exchanging swipes with the pair. She threatens to break one certified nursing assistant (CNA)’s nose and says she will call police. Her granddaughter Kristen says Dorothy was defending herself.
“She can’t really hurt you. She’s 98 pounds. They were picking her up and whipping her around,” Kristen said. “It’s awful. We haven’t even slept nights with the images in our head of what was taken place, and we weren’t there to help her.”
Sharon police investigating the case filed a court summons for Domingas Teixeira, 61, and Leonide Jean Paul Bien-Aime, 49, both of Brockton, on charges of assault and battery on a person over 60.
Teixeira denied physically assaulting Dorothy but declined to comment further without an attorney.
FOX25 tried to reach Bien-Aime at home but could not make contact with her.
Wingate confirmed to FOX25 both aides had been fired. The company sent the following statement to FOX25.
“Upon hearing this deeply upsetting news, we moved swiftly to terminate the two employees involved, conduct a full investigation and work with the authorities. We have brought in a counselor to support the resident and family and are re-educating all of our staff on appropriate and compassionate patient care. We are confident that this is an isolated incident, because we know our dedicated staff members who work hard every day to ensure the safety and dignity of the residents for whom they care. Nonetheless, it is heartbreaking.”
A spokesperson for Wingate also provided a letter that was sent to residents’ families, informing them of the incident, promising it was isolated and pledging, “nothing is more important to us than the safety and dignity of our residents.”
Dorothy, sick with pneumonia and a urinary tract infection, has been transferred to Massachusetts General Hospital. There, Kristen said, she is happier. She will never return to Wingate, the family said.
“I’m disgusted. I’m sickened by it. She’s defenseless,” Kristen said. “We trusted this place to take care of her, and this is what was taking place in their facility.”
In an effort to protect her own grandparent and others, Kristen has been sending letters to lawmakers urging them to reconsider an electronic monitoring bill that was never passed but was proposed more than 15 years ago to allow residents of nursing homes to keep a camera rolling in their room.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Davidson County Judge Casey Moreland was arrested and formally charged Tuesday morning by federal authorities in an ongoing investigation into his conduct.
While cuffed at the arms and legs, Moreland appeared in front of a federal magistrate for an arraignment on charges of obstruction of criminal investigations, tampering with a witness, victim, or an informant and retaliating against a witness, victim, or an informant in Nashville.
During his initial appearance, the Davidson County judge replied “Yes, sir” when asked if he understood the obstruction of justice charges against him and the potential penalties.
Moreland, whose hands and feet were both cuffed Tuesday, will remain in federal custody at a Grayson County, Kentucky, jail pending another hearing on Friday.
News 2 spoke with his attorney, Peter Strianse, late Tuesday afternoon who said, “He is obviously in a bit of a state of shock. You know he certainly did not expect to be awoken by the FBI at 6 o’clock this morning with a search warrant. So I think he is still reeling a bit from all of that.”
He added, “He is like any person. He did not expect to be here today. He certainly understood that he was under investigation, but he thought that investigation would be like a lot of investigations – they would look at it and look at it and made a determination if they have enough to charge somebody. This was really an abrupt way to start the day.”
The Federal Bureau of Investigation began investigating Moreland and others on January 25 after allegations they violated federal anti-corruption statutes by soliciting, accepting and extorting things of value including sexual favors, from people he had close relationships with in return for performing official acts that benefited those people and their associates.
Moreland reportedly became aware of the investigation in early February when FBI agents attempted to interview him.
Federal documents also allege that earlier this month, Moreland took steps to “obstruct and interfere with the federal investigation” by attempting to pay a woman to recant her prior statements about him. (Click to Continue)
Editor’s note: This article contains graphic descriptions that some readers may find disturbing.
A Eureka law firm has filed two wrongful death complaints against two Eureka nursing homes alleging that neglect and a lack of nursing staff led to the deaths of two patients in 2016.
Janssen Malloy LLP attorney W. Timothy Needham is representing the families of the two deceased patients Ralph Sorensen and Randy Kruger. He said both men died after developing severe pressure ulcers that became infected while they were patients at the Eureka and Seaview rehabilitation and wellness centers.
“Although our investigation is not yet complete, it appears to us from our investigation to date that these facilities are being consciously understaffed,” Needham said.
Needham said pressure ulcers are entirely avoidable and can form when patients are not moved regularly by nursing stuff. Wheelchair- or bed-bound patients can have circulation cut at pressure points if they are not moved, causing underlying tissue to become damaged and form an ulcer.
The two nursing homes as well as their owning company Brius Healthcare Services, their administrative company Rockport Healthcare Services and Brius CEO Shlomo Rechnitz have been named as defendants in the complaints. Attempts to contact Rockport and Brius as well as their representing attorney James Yee were not returned Wednesday.
The latest lawsuit filed March 10 alleges that the Eureka Rehabilitation and Wellness Center failed to check on Kruger’s skin.
According to the complaint, Kruger was admitted to the nursing home in July 2015 after being treated for a neurological condition at hospitals in Eureka and San Francisco two months earlier.
Needham states in his complaint that the nursing home became aware that Kruger had developed ulcers on his tailbone in August 2016. By November, the ulcer had dramatically worsened.
“You have to realize what (the facilities) have literally done is they’ve allowed this person to rot to the point that they’ve got a hole in their back so large you can put your fist in it all the way to their backbone,” Needham said Wednesday.
Complaining of chest pain, fever and pain to his tailbone, Kruger was taken to St. Joseph Hospital in Eureka where he died of bone infection and pneumonia on Nov. 9, 2016. He was 64.
About eight months earlier, the 76-year-old Sorensen died at the same hospital from an infected ulcer on his tailbone, according to the complaint.
Sorensen was admitted to Seaview Rehabilitation and Wellness Center in Humboldt Hill in November 2015 after being treated for an aortic valve replacement, according to the complaint. He did not have an ulcer when he was admitted, the complaint states, but was known to be at risk for ulcer formation in his resident care plan.
In December 2015, a nursing assistant noticed a pressure ulcer on Sorensen’s right buttock, “but neither Mr. Sorensen’s family nor his physician was told about the ulcer,” the complaint states.
Another nurse noticed the ulcer three days later but did not document the wound or inform Sorensen’s family or physician, the complaint alleges. Sorensen then began running a fever of up to 102 degrees and was found to have an abscess on his hip bone, which was later determined to be the ulcer at St. Joseph Hospital.
The complaint alleges that Seaview did not have the required nursing staff under state law to ensure Sorensen received the care identified in his care plan.
“During his stay at Seaview, Ralph Sorensen never once received a shower or a bath,” the complaint alleges. “Nor was his weight monitored regularly, his nutrition intake was not recorded, and regular assessments of Ralph Sorensen’s skin were not made as required of his care plan.”
Needham said the California Department of Public Health issued two state enforcement actions against Seaview in August 2016 for failing to report Sorensen’s health status changes and failing to provide treatment for or prevent a pressure sore from forming. The facility was fined $40,000 for these violations, but the nursing home has appealed the fines, according to the department website.
According to the Medicare nursing home comparison website, Seaview nursing staff provide an average of 18 minutes of time per resident each day compared to the state average of one hour and 57 minutes. Eureka Rehabilitation and Wellness Center has one hour and 29 minutes of nursing care time per patient per day.
This does not include certified nursing assistant time that patients receive, which is two hours or more at the two facilities, according to the Medicare website.
Brius is based in Los Angeles and has acquired more than 80 nursing homes throughout the state since 2006. The company acquired five nursing homes in Humboldt County — Eureka, Seaview, Fortuna, Granada and Pacific rehabilitation and wellness centers — from Skilled Healthcare Group in 2011.
Needham said these staffing issues are not isolated incidents, but are pervasive to Brius Healthcare Services’ nursing homes.
Last year, the Department of Public Health denied Brius Healthcare’s applications to acquire five nursing homes because of the company’s history of health care violations. Former California Attorney General Kamala Harris issued an emergency motion to block Brius from acquiring 19 nursing homes in 2014, referring to the company as a “serial violator” of state health care laws.
Brius Healthcare sought to close three of its Humboldt County nursing homes last year due to nursing staff recruitment issues. The closure would have resulted in more than 100 patients having to be transferred out of the county, prompting an outcry from local officials and the community. Brius announced last year that it would only be closing Pacific Rehabilitation and Wellness Center in Eureka, which occurred in January.
According to prosecutors, Mark Simmons acted as private, professional guardian April Parks' right-hand man.
A former employee describes Simmons as the "Air Traffic Controller" in Parks's guardianship office that was allegedly run as a criminal syndicate. Parks is charged with more than 200 felony counts while Simmons faces more than 100 counts including racketeering and perjury.
The man who pulled in hundreds of thousands of dollars when he supposed to protect the elderly told a judge Wednesday he couldn't afford an attorney.
According to court documents, Parks and Simmons told people Simmons was qualified to evaluate the elderly to determine if they suffered from dementia or Alzheimer's. But investigators say he was not a qualified social worker or medical professional.
Despite that, they found several cases where the so-called mental evaluation by Simmons "was used as the sole evidence, or as supporting evidence, to the court for determination if an elderly person needed guardianship."
Court records also show evidence of Simmons hand-calculating how many hours of service to bill a client to "zero out her last remaining dollars."
Simmons will be arraigned next week after the Public Defender's Office considers whether to appoint him an attorney.
Last year, caregiver Chares Kinsey was shot by a police officer while his hands were raised and he was lying on the ground. His autistic patient, Arnaldo Rios, had a toy truck in his hand, though officers say they believed it was a gun.
Screenshot of the Video provided by Charles Kinsey's attorney, Hilton Napolean. A bill requiring autism awareness training for law enforcement officers is starting to move in both chambers of the Florida Legislature. It comes after a high profile incident that occurred in South Florida last year involving a black man, an autistic man, and law enforcement.
Back in July, the shooting of Charles Kinsey—an unarmed black man in Miami—made national headlines. Why did it receive such attention?
Kinsey, a therapist at a group home, was with his autistic patient, Arnaldo Rios. Video shows Kinsey lying on the ground with his hands upraised, and talking to law officers. They were responding to calls of a suicide attempt with a gun. Even after Kinsey tries to calm Rios, one officer ends up shooting Kinsey—who still had his hands up.
“I still got my hands of the air,” said Kinsey, speaking to WSVN. “And, I said, ‘you know I just got shot.’ And, I asked him,’ sir, why did you shoot me?’ And, he said, ‘I don’t know.’”
Before he was shot, Kinsey said he wasn’t just worried for himself, he was also concerned about Rios.
“I was really worried…more worried about him than myself because I’m thinking, as long as I’ve got my hands up they’re not going to shoot me,” Kinsey added. “This is what I’m thinking. Wow, was I wrong!”
At the time, the police union representing the officer who shot Kinsey said officers believed Rios was holding a gun, although it was really a toy truck. So, the shot was meant for the 23-year-old autistic man.
But, Matthew Dietz—the lawyer for Rios and his family—said that’s wrong.
“‘We didn’t mean to shoot the African American guy. We meant to shoot the man with the disability’ is the height of ableism,” said Dietz. “It makes a person with a disability’s life worth nothing. It makes them not even a human. After they knew that he had autism, what did they do? They threw him on the ground. He’s sensitive to touch. He’s sensitive to noise. He didn’t know what was happening. They kept him a in a police car for three to four hours. There’s no excuse.”
Almost a week after the shooting, Rios’ mother and sister—Miriam and Gladys Soto—said Rios was still traumatized by the incident.
“He’s still traumatized,” said Miriam, translating for her mother. “He’s having night terrors. He’s not sleeping. He’s not eating. He’s not the same anymore. He’s still wearing the same clothes from the accident with Charles’ blood...”
And, now, more than six months later, Lobbyist Susan Goldstein says Rios’ condition is pretty much the same.
“It was very traumatic to this poor child, and he is a child, even though he looks like an adult,” said Goldstein. “He was cognitively probably around four-five years old. And, he has been in turmoil since.”
As the mother of an autistic daughter, she says it’s important law enforcement be trained to recognize the condition.
“Just the fact that police would know what the characteristics of autism and the symptoms—the rocking, the hand flapping…these children with autism do not wear physically their disabilities as many other developmental disabilities are recognizable immediately,” added Goldstein.
That’s why she supports a bill by Rep. Evan Jenne (D-Dania Beach) and Sen. Perry Thurston (D-Fort Lauderdale).
Thurston says his bill will have a positive effect on the way law enforcement interact with many Florida children. The CDC estimates 1 in 68 kids are diagnosed with autism.
“And, what this bill does is it requires the Department of Law Enforcement to establish a constant employment training component relating to autism spectrum disorder,” said Thurston. “This constant training will count toward the continued employment of 40 hours with each department and would have specific instructions on how law enforcement responds to citizens with autism spectrum disorder for officers to be able to identify the symptoms and characteristics.”
Both the House and Senate bills recently unanimously passed their first committees.
LAS VEGAS (AP) — A judge who has been suspended from her position in a small, Nevada town is challenging state ethics charges that accuse her of various forms of abuse of judicial power.
Goodsprings Township Justice of the Peace Dawn Haviland's responses to the 10 charges were posted March 22 by the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline, online records show.
The document declares that Haviland does not believe that she has committed any ethical violations.
But it declines to respond to an 11th count alleging that she improperly provided legal advice and violated rules requiring her to competently and diligently discharge her duties, "promote confidence in the independence of the judiciary" and "exercise impartiality and fairness."
"I do not give anyone legal advice," she said, adding that she saw no specific facts to respond to in the other allegations in the count.
Haviland's lawyer, Al Marquis, has said he'll challenge the authority of the state oversight panel and seek dismissal of all charges. They were filed March 1.
Haviland was suspended in December with pay from her job as the only local judge in Goodsprings, a town of about 200 residents about 40 miles (64 kilometers) southwest of Las Vegas.
She branded several allegations as fabrications and dismissed one about sentencing a man to jail without his attorney present as a simple mistake. She said she corrected it "a couple of days later."
Haviland attributed several of the allegations to a disgruntled court clerk. Haviland said that she couldn't recall signing an order sealing records about a domestic dispute involving her daughter and then-son-in-law. She had recused herself from the case.
Haviland said her clerk gave her the order for her signature. In her answer to the judicial discipline panel, Haviland said that she saw nothing wrong with signing it because it had been agreed-upon by all parties in the case.
Haviland's answer accused the commission of making public a record that was supposed to have been sealed.
33rd District Court Judge Jennifer Coleman Hesson.
DETROIT, MI — Serial kidnapper-guardian Mary Rowan continues to strike. Now she may also be an accessory to the murder of one of her wards, Raymond Davis. Rowan is additionally pressing charges against country singer Sharmian Lynette Worley for trying to protect her mom from Rowan, who had no court order to take her.
Regarding the death of Davis and four other men March 9 in a fire on Whittier in Detroit, Wayne Co. Prosecutor Kym Worthy has charged one of the allegedly mentally ill residents for setting the fire, which was fanned into an inferno by gusting winds.
The other men who died were James Johnson, Leo Dear, William Ballard, and Norman Connors, according to a report from Channel Four. Neither the operators of the home, which was not licensed by the city or other entities, nor Rowan, who placed Davis, who is blind, in an unlicensed home with possibly dangerous roommates, are being charged.
Mary Rowan (sitting)
Rowan is currently involved in the cases of at least 1398 individuals under that court’s supervision, according to its records.
Six months ago, Rowan seized Wanda Lynette Worley, mother of Nashville-based country music star Sharmian (pronounced Char-min) from the home she shared with her daughter in Brownstown Twp.
VOD’s review of Wanda Worley’s probate court file shows that Judge David Braxton, in charge of Worley’s case, NEVER issued any order granting authority to Rowan to take Worley away from her daughter, who is also known as Sharmian Sowards. There are also no notices of service of an order appointing Rowan as successor guardian, on Sharmian or the rest of Worley’s family. See http://voiceofdetroit.net/wp-content/uploads/Wanda-Worley-WCPC-roster.pdf.
Sharmian told VOD it was not Rowan’s first attempt to take her mother.
“First, Mary Rowan come banging on my mobile home, screaming as loud as she could, ‘Where is Wanda Worley, I’m the guardian.'” Sharmian told VOD. “I told her get off my property NOW and she left. A week or two later, I was in my front yard, weatherizing the house and cleaning it a with hose. She pulled up again. I still didn’t know who the woman was. I continued washing my house. I told her again do not come on my property. She looked like the Wicked Witch of the West, very scary and intimidating, and I was not giving my mother to her.”
Both Sharmian and Rowan called the police, who took her mother after assuring Sharmian she would be OK and would be back in a couple of days. They claimed to have seen the non-existent court order. Sharmian says she never saw it and never knew who Rowan was.
Wanda Worley has not come back home for good since. Meanwhile, Sharmian faces misdemeanor charges of “resisting, hindering and obstructing a police officer/public official,” under what appears to be a city ordinance.
A trial on the charges against Sharmian will take place in 33rd District Court Wed. March 29 at 11 a.m, in front of Judge Jennifer Coleman Hesson. (Click to Continue)
Michael Schroeder, who recently completed a John A. Hartford Foundation-sponsored Journalists in Aging Fellowship, has a three-part U.S. News & World Report series on financial elder abuse.
The three articles by Michael Schroeder discuss different aspects of the huge, but under-reported, issue of financial exploitation of older adults. The articles were completed as part of the Journalists in Aging Fellowship, a program of the Gerontological Society of America and New America Media:
It’s encouraging to see the New Mexico Supreme Court recognizes the need to review the state’s troubled system designed to protect individuals deemed by the courts to be “incapacitated” and placed under court-appointed guardianship, conservatorship or both. Chief Justice Charles Daniels says he and the other four justices plan to appoint a commission to undertake a comprehensive study of the issue – including public hearings – that will inform the court of its findings.
The court announcement comes after the Journal published a series of articles highlighting the problems faced by some families and loved ones when someone says an elderly family member can no longer fend for themselves and becomes a ward of the court.
The Journal investigation found New Mexico lags behind other states that have instituted reforms to improve transparency in the mostly confidential system, as well as make guardians and conservators more accountable to the courts, including requiring certification or licensing.
The Journal has interviewed many family members who have had a loved one placed under guardianship or conservatorship; they have shared unsettling stories of how the system divided relatives, squandered finances and sometimes prevented them from spending time with their “incapacitated” parent. Although the current system has served many families well, these testimonies leave no doubt that improvements are direly needed.
Daniels says if improvements are warranted, the court could seek legislation; recommend executive agencies enact greater safeguards, or change court rules. Former state Rep. Conrad James, R-Albuquerque, who tried to pass a bill in 2016 to permit visitation by family members of a loved one under guardianship, said at the recent Journal forum “baby steps” might be needed to get the reform ball moving.
What the state Supreme Court has done is a giant leap in the right direction.
This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.
But what happened to her and her assets during the nine years before her death in 2012 is mired in court-ordered secrecy that is opposed by her only child.
Annette Rosenstiel, an author who was married to New York financial heavyweight Raymond S. Rosenstiel, had been the ward of a for-profit guardian/conservator, Decades LLC of Albuquerque, since about 2003.
After her death, Annette’s daughter and personal representative, Leonie Rosenstiel, filed a lawsuit against the company and its founder, Nancy Oriola, alleging negligence and mismanagement of her mother’s assets. But her court complaint, the defendants’ response and more than 20 other documents filed by the parties in the civil negligence case are under seal on the order of a state district judge in Albuquerque.
Leonie Rosenstiel has tried to open up her own case, and on Wednesday the Albuquerque Journal filed a motion seeking to unseal the records, arguing that information about “alleged misbehavior of guardians or conservators should be made public because it is plainly a matter of public concern.”
“Affording blanket protection to information related to Defendants’ alleged mismanagement of a conservatorship or guardianship, when mismanagement by court-appointed guardians or conservators is a critical matter of public concern, offends the notion of the First Amendment right of access to the courts,” the newspaper argued in its motion.
A handful of records that aren’t sealed offer a glimpse into the allegations, which in essence contend that Decades mismanaged the Rosenstiel assets and abused its position as court-appointed guardian and conservator.
One document alleges breach of fiduciary duty, negligent handling of assets, negligence in the administration of the guardianship and conservatorship by a commercial entity and violation of the New Mexico Unfair Practices Act. An accounting is also requested.
Leonie Rosenstiel has tried to have the files in her own lawsuit opened.
Based on what is known, the Journal argues in its motion, that the only interest being protected is the defendants’ interest in avoiding disclosure of Rosenstiel’s allegations against them.
None of the attorneys in Rosenstiel’s civil lawsuit responded to Journal requests for comment on Wednesday, but the lawyer for Decades said his client would oppose the Journal’s efforts to unseal the case.
State law makes virtually all information in a guardianship/conservatorship case confidential, except for the court docket sheet, the kind of guardianship and the name of the allegedly incapacitated person for whom a guardian was appointed.
But this isn’t the guardianship case of Annette Rosenstiel; rather, it is a claim of negligence against the guardian/conservator that was filed after the ward had died. District Judge Alan Malott, siding with Decades and against Rosentiel, ruled earlier that the case would remain sealed because it was related to a guardianship matter.
A court-appointed guardian is responsible for the day-to-day life decisions of a ward, while a conservator manages the financial affairs of a ward. In some cases, the guardian and conservator are one and the same.
Most guardians appointed in New Mexico are family members of the incapacitated person, but in some cases, judges decide a nonrelative should be appointed.
Decades, which has operated since 2001, is among the for-profit corporate companies in the state providing such services.
Leonie Rosenstiel originally initiated the guardian/conservator proceeding in 2003, according to court records, but, because of the secrecy, it isn’t known whether she sought to be her mother’s guardian or why the court appointed Decades LLC.
Records in the negligence case indicate there was a court-ordered forensic audit into some of Decades’ actions as Annette Rosenstiel’s guardian and conservator, although the results are secret.
The lawsuit was initially filed under seal. Rosenstiel subsequently asked for the court records to be unsealed, while the defendants contended they should be automatically kept from the public because they related to guardianship/conservatorship matters. Her lawyer also asked to be able to use portions of the guardianship case in the civil lawsuit.
“The former ward has passed away, and accordingly will suffer no embarrassment if the Sealed Records are unsealed,” Rosenstiel’s attorney, David A. Garcia, argued in a motion filed in 2013.
“Courts seal their records to protect the ward, not to protect the interests of private corporate guardians and conservators.
“Parties to litigation in civil cases would often prefer that as many particulars of the litigation as possible be hidden from the public,” he wrote. “But that isn’t the way court records are handled in the vast majority of cases like the one at bar.”
Decades, in arguing to keep the case sealed, said Annette Rosenstiel’s privacy interests didn’t end simply because she died.
The Journal’s motion to unseal the records in the negligence case, filed by attorney Matt Hoyt, said Malott appeared to interpret state law as automatically requiring that almost all information and documentation related to a guardianship and or/conservatorship proceeding be kept confidential – even though the civil negligence case is not itself such a proceeding.
“There was also no “separate consideration of reasons why the records in this (civil negligence) lawsuit should be sealed,” the Journal said.
The Journal also argued in its motion that the judge has a duty to seal only portions of the records rather than entire documents.
Malott, in his earlier denial of Garcia’s request to unseal the documents, said it would be “overly burdensome and expensive for the parties, and markedly inefficient for the Court, to determine confidentiality of each separate document or item of information as this matter is developed for trial.”
So the judge ordered the sealing of “any pleadings” related to the guardianship/conservatorship proceeding. Actual trial testimony and exhibits would be publicly available if and when the case goes to trial. A trial date is set for later this year.
If you are one of the 12,600 family caregivers in the Virgin Islands, you may be managing a loved one’s personal finances. Perhaps a Virgin Islands court has even appointed you as the person’s legal guardian. But what if you have to move away, or your loved one needs to go to a hospital on the U.S. mainland for medical care?
Guardianship just became more portable, with enactment of the Uniform Adult Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Jurisdiction Act. The law, backed by AARP, sets guidelines to determine which state or territory has jurisdiction in guardianship cases. It also provides a simple process to transfer noncontroversial guardianships between jurisdictions.
AARP has fought successfully to get similar laws passed in 45 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. For more information, go to aarp.org/vi.
The Austin Police Department investigation will soon close regarding a nurse aide at Windsor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center on Duval in North Austin.
No charges are filed.
A 23-year-old Pflugerville certified nurse aide is accused of posting Snapchat videos of himself taunting an 83-year-old woman with a feather, making her smear feces on her face.
APD Detective Lee Knouse said he could not comment on the specifics of this case, but told us how they work cases like these.
He said social media sites, like Snapchat, are not always enough evidence for an arrest because the user could claim someone was using the account without permission.
But don’t let that stop you from alerting police to criminal acts.
“We would ask as a police department for you to be a good neighbor and reach out to the police department. If you can, retain any information. Save any video you can that would aid in a criminal investigation later,” said Knouse.
Austin Police do not typically handles cases regarding abuse allegations between facility workers and the elderly. The Texas Attorney General’s Office handles criminal matters. The Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) handles licensing regulations.
“Even though the police department may not have something with a criminal offense, that could land someone in jail, we want to make sure that the child or elderly is safe. the people who can do that would be DADS or other individuals we work with who could keep that individual safe,” said Knouse.
DADS confirmed their investigation is still open.
“Nursing facilities are required to follow regulations and statutes pertaining to offenses and criminal history checks,” said Kelli Weldon, Assistant Press Officer for the Texas Health & Human Services Commission, which is the state agency over DADS.
“Our regulatory authority is generally focused on the facility rather than individuals. Note: If an investigator confirms during an investigation that a nurse aide committed an act of abuse, neglect, exploitation or misappropriation of a resident or resident property the nurse aide will be referred to the Nurse Aide Registry for due process. If the at the end of due process the referral is upheld, the nurse aide’s certification will be revoked and he/she will be listed on the Employee Misconduct Registry as permanently unemployable in certain facilities in the state of Texas,” said Weldon.
KVUE reached out to the Texas Attorney General’s office Friday afternoon. They could not confirm nor deny an open investigation before this update. A spokesman said they will provide an update next week.
It started out simply: a retired Boxford lawyer, Marvin Siegel, got along in years, and as he approached his 83rd year amongst his fellow men, he began to slip a bit, needing some help around the house. His family pitched in, and at one point, a service that provided checkups on the elderly would visit with Mr. Siegel and see to his needs.
As time went on, his needs increased and a family member related that it made sense for his youngest daughter, a lawyer like her dad, to move into the family home with her father. (The eldest daughter lives thousands of miles away, and the middle daughter has some “issues” according to her younger sibling.)
Things appeared fine at first, having one daughter, her husband and two of his grandchildren fill the voids in his previously silent home. Dinners together, helping out with laundry care, just watching TV together and bringing joy to Mr. Siegel…Then one day, the grandkids returned home with their mom, and found their grandfather being taken away in an ambulance.
According to statements from the daughter and court documents (and we’re in the process of obtaining more documents, and scrutinizing hundreds of pages of filings and transcripts and listening to the court recordings), the visiting helper felt that Mr. Siegel was in an ill condition, tired and apparently forgetful. She called for an ambulance and he was transported to Beverly Hospital. From there, he was transported to another facility for evaluation, and that’s where the drugging began.
According to his youngest daughter, Mr. Siegel is medicated against his wishes, isolated from her, has had his cell phone taken away from him by his court-appointed guardian, and has 24/7 “guards” (medical providers) with him at his home in Boxford. She notes that within months of the ambulance ride, and the subsequent involvement of court-appointed personnel, she and her family were kicked out of her dad’s home, and she’s been prohibited from visiting with or having any communication with him.
That was five years ago.
Oh, and his bank accounts have dwindled over the past five years, with his net worth apparently oozed away, going from approximately $9 million to less than $4 million, and shrinking. (Click to Continue)
LIVE OAK — The Suwannee County Sheriff’s Office charged John Stuart Harrelson with exploitation of elderly person or disabled adult and neglect of an elderly person or disabled adult on March 24.
According to the report, an investigation by the Florida Department of Children and Families found the victim in the care of Harrelson, 60. The suspect was alleged to be mistreating the victim, using her money for his own personal gain and not the victims as well as leaving the victim home alone in a filthy and unsafe residence, prompting the investigation, the report states.
During DCF’s investigation, it found the victim home alone wearing misfitting clothing that were urine and feces soaked and bleach stained and just one shoe, the report states.
Suwannee County Fire Rescue responded to conduct a medical assessment of the victim and determined she was in need of medical assistance, according to the report. The DCF findings stated that the victim was malnourished looking and had no food in the residence other than a half-eaten waffle which had roaches crawling on it, the report states.
According to the report, live and dead roaches were found throughout the house with animal feces and urine throughout as well.
The DCF investigation found, according to the report, that the suspect failed to provide the victim with adequate food/nutrition, clean and adequate clothing, and medicine and medical services that “a prudent person would consider essential for the wellbeing” of the victim.
The report states that the DCF investigation was provided the victim’s bank statements showing numerous large withdrawals from ATMs from January 2016 to January 2017, which the suspect was allegedly using to benefit himself.