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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 for more information on how you can help stop guardian abuse.

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    As he faces another Memorial Day, Ronald White's life remains a “blessed’’ struggle. The 69-year-old disabled Vietnam veteran walks with a cane these days. He’s had to move from his house into a group home.

    But his biggest worries remain the financial stress caused when a fiduciary assigned by the Department of Veterans Affairs — a stranger he’s met only a handful of times — allegedly misappropriated a chunk of his savings.

    “I’m blessed. I’m blessed,’’ White assures a visitor when asked how he’s holding up.

    Keith Dobbs
    But when the subject turns to Keith L. Dobbs, a now-disbarred Memphis attorney accused in court papers of mishandling White’s money, the former Army combat soldier’s tone changes.

    “He stole my money,’’ says White. “He needs to be prosecuted.’’

    More than a year after the VA first detected irregularities in Dobbs’ oversight of veterans' funds, authorities still are trying to sort it out. As a VA-appointed fiduciary, Dobbs managed the financial affairs of as many as 19 Memphis-area veterans — cases he eventually was removed from.

    At least two lawsuits have been filed, including one on behalf of White, trying to collect an undetermined amount funds.

    An independent investigation by The Commercial Appeal last year told the stories of veterans who suffered under Dobbs' watch, men like David Meadows, a brain-damaged Army veteran whose bank accounts were frozen and who feared being kicked out on the street; Bobbie Bouie, a 54-year-old PTSD victim who showed up sobbing at Shelby County Probate Court saying he had no money; and Henry Ashurst, 87, the victim of an earlier dishonest fiduciary who used $120,000 of the elderly vet’s funds to finance gambling junkets and personal bills before the VA assigned Dobbs to manage his affairs.

    Evidence in Ashurst’s case suggest he might be the victim of another elaborate scam.

    In an affidavit that led to the suspension of Dobbs' law license in February 2016, BankTennessee Chief Financial Officer Andrew John LoCascio questioned two certificates of deposit totaling $40,000 that Dobbs held for Ashurst. The bank officer said the CDs, listed by Dobbs in an accounting, are not BankTennessee instruments, saying the listings "falsely represent certificates of deposit balances.''

    In all, LoCascio's affidavit questions 12 CDs totaling $178,000 that Dobbs contended were held in the name of Ashurst and three other veterans.

    "Based on my investigation, the Account Certificates filed with the Probate Court Annual Accountings reflecting the certificates of deposit referred to above are not authentic documents certified by BankTennessee,'' the affidavit said. CD numbers listed by Dobbs either didn't exist at BankTennessee or were numbers associated with other customers, the affidavit said.

    Marion Brooks, Ashurst’s sister and caregiver, said this week she’s been told by her brother’s new fiduciary that the VA has agreed to restore money that went missing on Dobbs’ watch.

    “He said they put back a hundred thousand dollars. That’s what he stole from my brother,’’ Brooks said.

    Scott Rose, the Memphis attorney the VA has appointed to replace Dobbs as Ashurst’s fiduciary, confirmed the VA has replaced missing funds from the veteran’s account but said ethically he can’t comment on the amount until records are filed in Shelby County Probate Court.

    Efforts to interview Dobbs, 37, were unsuccessful.

    Full Article and Source:
    Memorial Day Misery:  Disabled Veteran Seeks Missing Funds, Sues VA Appointed Fiduciary

    See Also:
    Norman Hughes, Tennessee Victim

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    A Minden woman who continued to work at a nursing home despite being accused in the past of abusing her position there is in trouble again.

    This time, authorities say, she went even further. They accuse her of draining a resident’s bank and retirement accounts to the tune of $391,000.

    Stephanie Sanders Hays, 49, the social services director at Leslie Lakes Retirement Center in Arcadia, was arrested Friday in a pharmacy parking lot in Minden.

    She was booked on 15 counts of theft of the assets of a person who is aged or person with a disability, 19 counts of money laundering, 1 counts of forgery and 17 counts of exploitation of persons with infirmities.

    She’s held in the Bienville Parish jail on a $300,000 bond.

    Hays allegedly executed several schemes from September 2012 through February 2016 to gain access to the financial assets of at least one resident of Leslie Lakes, according to a news release from Attorney General Jeff Landry, whose Louisiana Department of Justice lead the investigation with the assistance of the Bienville Parish Sheriff’s Office and Minden Police Department.

    Hays allegedly abused her power of attorney authority over the affairs of a resident – draining a bank account, IRAs, annuity plan, and proceeds from the sale of the resident’s home. She also allegedly shopped for items requested by the residents at local Walmart stores with forged retirement center checks. A portion of the funds included Social Security payments, pension payments and German reparation payments.

    “Our office fights daily to protect our state’s seniors and sick. Criminals preying on Louisiana’s most vulnerable will investigated, apprehended, and prosecuted,” said Landry. “It is a disgusting travesty for the elderly, especially Holocaust survivors, to be scammed and robbed by those supposedly caring for them. I hope to get justice for our victims very soon.”

    Hays was arrested in December 2013 on a charge of unauthorized use of a moveable after Hays admitted to using a deceased resident’s cell phone to send text messages. The deceased resident’s wife discovered the phone was being used despite assurances from the administrator it was secured.

    Hays was not jailed for the offense. Instead, former District Attorney Johnathan Stewart placed her on pre-trial diversion.

    Full Article & Source:
    Nursing home employee accused of stealing nearly $400k from patient

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    ROCKVILLE, Conn. (AP) — A Connecticut probate judge has given a man charged with killing his wife 60 days to detail what he did with her finances in the 17 months since her death.

    The Hartford Courant reports ( ) Probate Judge James Purnell issued the order to Richard Dabate (DAH'-bayt) on Friday.

    Dabate has pleaded not guilty to murder and other charges in connection with the killing of 39-year-old Connie Dabate two days before Christmas 2015.

    The judge also formally removed Dabate as executor of his wife's estate, replacing him with her sister.

    Dabate told investigators a masked man shot his wife and tied him up. But police said evidence contradicted Dabate's story, including information from his wife's Fitbit that showed she was moving around an hour after her husband said she was shot.

    Full Article & Source:
    Judge Wants Accounting From Man Accused in Wife's Killing

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    CARSON CITY, Nev. (KOLO) - Nevada Attorney General Adam Paul Laxalt has announced a prison sentence for a 27-year-old Reno man for exploitation of an older person.

    Yohannes Habtemicael is sentenced for the category “B” felony for converting funds entrusted to him as his father’s guardian for personal use. The fraudulent acts were committed between August 2014 and November 2015.

    Laxalt's office says in 2014, Habtemicael was appointed as the permanent guardian of his 67-year-old father Tewolde Habtemicael and his estate, after it was determined that Tewolde Habtemicael was unable to care for himself. As a guardian, his son was entrusted with funds for the limited purpose of providing for his father’s care. But he converted more than $88,000 of his father’s funds for his own personal use.

    District Court Judge Jerome Polaha sentenced Habtemicael to 24-120 months in prison, and ordered him to pay full restitution in the amount of $88,414.65.

    “Financial exploitation can take many forms, and commonly involves trusted persons of a vulnerable adult,” said Laxalt. “This sentencing sends a message that abuses committed against our elderly will not be tolerated and will be aggressively pursued and prosecuted. I am proud of how effective my Elder Abuse Section of the Financial Fraud Unit has been in responding to a statewide increase in financial fraud and guardianship exploitation.”

    In July, 2016, the Nevada Legislature’s Interim Finance Committee unanimously approved Laxalt’s request to combat increasing financial fraud within the State using non-taxpayer settlement funds obtained by his office. Laxalt’s request included the allocation of approximately $400,000 of non-taxpayer settlement funds to the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada in order to boost their capacity to fight civil guardianship exploitation and abuse. In the attorney general’s new budget, the Legislature re-authorized the financial fraud positions, as well as additional funding for Washoe Legal Services to combat elder exploitation in Northern Nevada counties. Although the Office of the Nevada Attorney General does not have primary jurisdiction over guardianship matters, the Office will continue to prosecute meritorious cases from District Attorney Offices who either refer or decline prosecution.

    If you have information regarding a suspected instance of fraud, you can file a complaint here.

    Full Article & Source:
    Reno man sentenced to prison for stealing from father

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    Given the scientific facts of Alzheimer’s—an illness marked by profound losses that has no true treatment or cure—it’s easy to succumb to sensationalized images of an unstoppable, worldwide dementia doom.

    But hope endures, creeping along the edges of the global consciousness, in the form of individual advocates who are changing the way we see (and care for) people who have Alzheimer’s. It’s a gradually growing guerilla force, battling the disease on multiple fronts.

    Advocating for the everyman

    Rick and Phyllis June have gone on countless speaking engagements, appearing before lawmakers and grade school children alike.

    Like many Alzheimer’s advocates, they are appalled at the lack of funding for Alzheimer’s care and research in the U.S.

    The numbers tell an enlightening tale: in the past decade, the number of Alzheimer’s deaths has increased by 68 percent, while the number of deaths from other major diseases (i.e. cancer, heart disease, and stroke) has declined.

    Meanwhile, even with the inception of the much-lauded National Alzheimer’s Project Act (NAPA), funding for Alzheimer’s research (just over $500 million in FY 2012) remains a woeful fraction of that allotted for cancer ($5.6 billion) and heart disease ($1.2 billion), according to figures from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

    “It’s not a Republican thing, or a Democrat thing. Until we get more money, we’re just spinnin’,” says Rick.

    Most of the time, Rick and other Alzheimer’s advocates end up being shunted to the side, speaking to aides rather than the lawmakers themselves. But meetings with Congressmen are not where Rick and Phyllis June find their greatest fulfillment.

    Speaking to young children about Alzheimer’s is the couple’s preferred form of outreach. For obvious reasons, some of the more unpleasant details of the disease have to be omitted when talking to kids, but Rick derives great joy from giving children a space to ask questions and receive information about Alzheimer’s.

    It’s a never-ending process, one that is sometimes interrupted by Rick’s disease, but the pair is firm in their resolve to educate others on what it’s like for real people (as opposed to well-known celebrities) who are living with Alzheimer’s. Phyllis June says, “We’ve made a dent, and we’re going to continue to make a dent.”

    Inspired by unfortunate circumstances and fueled by passion for their mission, the pair is determined to make the most of the time and opportunities they are given.

    “Today could be the best day I ever have. This disease is going to take control sooner or later,” says Rick

    Phyllis June flashes him a knowing smile, “For you, it’s going to be later—much later.”

    Exposing the philosophy in Alzheimer’s

    David is a self-proclaimed exhibitionist. He enjoys sharing his inner life with others—even strangers.

    He seldom shies away from an opportunity to share his experiences with people, even if he risks portraying himself in a less-than-flattering light.

    As a young doctor, David accidentally aborted a live, wanted fetus because he thought the child was already dead. 

    Instead of hiding his grave mistake, he went public with it. After seeking advice and counsel from colleagues—who shrugged off his queries with the frustrating one-liner, “mistakes happen”—David decided to write and publish an article on his experiences in a prestigious medical journal, earning him a reputation among his peers for unflinching openness.

    Making the jump from talking about life-altering medical mistakes (an extremely taboo topic) to sharing his insights about living with Alzheimer’s was not a difficult one for David to make.

    His blog—which has attracted the attention of major news outlets and is featured on prominent aging care websites—is continuing to attract new followers with his poignant posts.

    His journey with Alzheimer’s is also being chronicled by award-winning documentary filmmaker, Larry Engel.

    For his part, David hopes his openness will inspire others to seek out more meaningful connections with those who have the disease, “What’s happened with my telling people about my Alzheimer’s has been an incredible deepening of relationships.”

    He often refers to his future experiences with Alzheimer’s as an adventure, even though he knows his journey won’t end with a triumphant outcome. “Each of us with this disease must explore it for the first time; each of us faces a unique adventure.”

    Marja opts not to spend time on predictions. She simply hopes that she’ll be able to hold on to her bond with her husband as his disease progresses.  (Click to Continue)

    SlideShows, Full Article & Source:
    Part Four Fading Minds, Full Hearts

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    A costly miscalculation

    $24,000; that’s how much David’s mistake would cost the church.

    He’d been in charge of calculating the Eighth Day Faith Community’s budget for years, but this time was different. Alzheimer’s had warped the formerly familiar task to the point of unrecognizability.

    The spreadsheet formula was David’s brain-child, so the process should have taken him half-an hour—a straightforward case of plug and chug. Knowing that his analytical mind was being affected by his disease, David gave himself an hour-and-a-half cushion to complete the task, just in case.

    Five hours later, he was still at it, writing down individual steps on scrap paper in a futile attempt to remember simple calculations—total income equals past income plus future income.

    David eventually finished the assignment and was relatively confident with the accuracy of the resulting figure.

    He would later discover that he had overestimated the church’s revenue by $24,000—a sum that was nearly 15 percent of their total budget for the year.

    The community was understanding of David’s mistake. He had previously informed them of his diagnosis and the possible impact it could have on his ability to participate in various roles within the church.

    It would be inconvenient, but they would adjust.

    David’s adjustment would be slightly different (and more difficult) than that of his peers. He would have to give up doing the books for Eighth Day—just one more entry on the ever-growing list of losses he would endure due to Alzheimer’s.

    Walmart worries

    Rick was in a state of panic—Phyllis June had been gone for way too long.

    They had been standing in the line at the deli counter of the local Walmart when his wife said she needed to go grab the dishwasher soap she’d forgotten to pick up in another part of the store.

    She told Rick that the errand would take a matter of minutes, but surely it had been much longer than that.

    Had something happened to her?

    Was she in trouble?

    Could she be hurt?

    How would he help her—he didn’t even know where she’d gone?

    Rick was still rooted to the spot, debating what he should do, when Phyllis June’s familiar face finally rounded the corner of the aisle. A warm, tingly feeling of relief washed over Rick as he beheld his wife.

    Once she was within talking distance, he asked if she’d gotten the soap—and what had taken her so darn long to find it.

    Puzzled by his question, Phyllis June glanced down at her watch—it had been less than three minutes since she’d left Rick.

    Matching accessories

    A wave of gift boxes nearly knocked Michele off her feet as she opened the hall closet.

    For a few seconds she stood helpless, buffeted about by dozens of small, sharp-edged cartons. When the last box finally thunked into place, the foyer resembled a scene out of a made-for-television holiday movie—Michele standing amid a haphazard pile of festive parcels, a humanoid Christmas tree, wearing a bemused smile.

    She bent down and fished a slim, rectangular box from the top of the heap. Inside was a necklace, classic and elegant, the perfect pairing for that timeless staple of every woman’s closet, the “little black dress.”

    The necklace wasn’t Michele’s; it was Jean’s. Indeed, all of the boxes that had rained down on Michele moments before, belonged to her mother. Ever the fashionista, Jean had developed a penchant for shopping on QVC once her cognitive impairment progressed to the point where she could no longer go out and scour the stores herself.

    Despite Michele’s constant warnings and requests for her to stop, Jean refused to listen. She continued to buy things, keeping her purchases hidden from her daughter by having them delivered to the house while Michele was at work.

    For Michele, it’s a memory both frustrating and fond.

    Jean’s behavior eventually reached the point of obsession and she ended up doing some serious damage to her finances, which her daughter had to work hard to remedy.

    But each morning, when Michele went to retrieve the clothes she’d laid out for work the night before, a perfectly matching accessory would be laying on top, courtesy of a mother who always wanted to make sure her daughter was properly outfitted.  (Click to Continue)

    SlideShow, Full Article & Source:
    Part Three -  Activities of Daily Life

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    Love in translation

    It was 1962 and, for 17-year-old David Hilfiker, it was not love at first sight.

    Marja, the Finnish foreign exchange student, intrigued him on an intellectual level, not an emotional one. An unquenchable feeling of curiosity compelled him to ask Marja out, just to learn more about her. From the beginning, he made sure to let the young woman know that he was not motivated by amorous feelings of any kind.

    “He was just interested in me because I was the foreign exchange student, and he told that to me very plainly when he first introduced himself,” Marja says.

    Her reaction the first time she saw David—a handsome man standing at the front of the classroom, talking animatedly with the instructor, a briefcase under one arm—could not have been more different. “I remember thinking, ‘He looks so sweet. I wonder what it would be like to be married to that man. Maybe we would live in the suburbs and have two children.’”

    By the end of the year, David’s curiosity had given way to a deeper sense of connection, and the two officially became a couple just two weeks before Marja had to return to Finland. Seven years and countless letters later, she would obtain the answer to her love-at-first-sight-fueled hypothetical.

    The two celebrated their union on June 12, 1969. They married in Minnesota, but planned the ceremony to coincide with the summer solstice, Finland’s biggest holiday.

    Over the course of four decades, the couple rode the highs and lows of life together. They crafted a family of three children and multiple grandchildren, they spearheaded community outreach initiatives making use of David’s skills as a physician and Marja’s talent for teaching, and they learned how to cope with his depression, and her doubts about her abilities as a mother.

    Reflecting on his relationship, David says, “I think about the 43 years we’ve spent together, making love, taking walks, doing chores, raising children—all of those things that normal people think about their wives.”

    But “normal” was left by the side of the road the day that David visited Jens at Buckingham.

    David is still in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, so those who aren’t around him on a daily basis don’t see the cognitive slips that creep into his day-to-day life. But friends and family notice the differences; the little ways that Alzheimer’s is re-defining what normal really means for David and his wife.

    There are many times when David looks upon his wife with sadness, knowing the uncharted challenges that lie ahead—challenges that she will likely have to face alone, as he will be “out of it.” He knows she will be an amazing caregiver, but fears the heavy burden his disease will inevitably place on her shoulders.

    “It’s very painful, to look at this woman that you love and to know what’s coming for her.”

    Small town sweethearts

    After just a few dates, Rick confesses to being completely “smitten” with his future wife.

    Rick and Phyllis June had known each other for four years, but it would take a chance meeting at a local watering hole to kindle a deeper relationship between them.

    Rick’s parents owned the popular tavern where Phyllis June’s mother worked. One day, when Phyllis June came in to visit her mother on the job, she and Rick struck up a conversation. Both were fresh off a recent divorce and found they had a good deal in common.

    Despite his other cognitive losses, the image of his future wife on their first date remains firmly fixed in Rick’s mind. “I will never forget. She had on a red crushed velvet blazer, navy blue slacks and a white blouse. Her hair below her waist. Her green eyes. Her smile. Her smell.”

    The two continued to see each other for five years before getting married. At the ceremony, their flower girl was Phyllis June’s daughter, Tia, from her previous marriage, while their ring bearer was the son of one of Rick’s closest friends.

    Eleven years later, in a quaint act of kismet, Tia and the ring bearer would themselves get married.

    Community has always been immensely important to Rick and Phyllis June. They’ve lived in the same area for their entire lives, serving as EMTs and volunteers at a local health clinic for individuals without insurance.

    Their passion for helping their neighbors mirrors the passion they have for each other.

    “We have been married for 30 years and we love each other as much today as we did the day we first met,” says Rick. “We are not only husband and wife, we are best friends.”

    The couple’s loving bond has served them well as Phyllis June has had to take on more of a caregiving role for Rick. She knows her husband so well that, when he forgets the words he’s looking for, she can often anticipate his needs and finish his sentences for him.

    It’s a rare relationship that has been (and will continue to be) tested as Rick’s Alzheimer’s progresses.

    He is somewhere in the moderate phase of the disease. With the help of his specially-trained therapy dog named Sam, Rick can still manage on his own while Phyllis June goes to work—sometimes running squad for extra hours, to make sure they have enough money to cover Rick’s medical bills.

    “Sam’s done more for me than any medication could ever do,” Rick says of the steadfast German Shepherd who officially became a Phelps in 2012. “He’s not going to cure my disease, but he has certainly changed how I live my day-to-day life.”

    The two formed a special bond the moment they first laid eyes on each other.

    Alzheimer’s service dogs are selected to match the temperament and specific needs of their cognitively impaired handlers. Bob Taylor, Sam’s primary trainer and the founder of Dog Wish, a nonprofit that provides service dogs to people with psychiatric conditions, admits the animal was an “unusual candidate.” Unquestionably intelligent and very loving, Sam lacked the ideal level of maturity for a service dog.

    In spite of this (or perhaps because of it), Rick and Sam share a unique connection, the depth of which surprises even Taylor himself. “I have found very few dogs that I have been that excited about. Sam is perfect for Rick and that’s all that counts.”

    The clever canine offers Rick both emotional and functional support, taking some of the day-to-day caregiving weight off of Phyllis June, whose no-nonsense demeanor has served her well as her husband’s increasing impairment seeps into their daily lives. When asked how she copes with Rick’s advancing illness, she offers a simple reply: “I live it one day at a time.”  (Click to Continue)

    Slide Shows, Full Article & Source:
    Part Two - The View From Inside

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  • 06/03/17--23:30: Fade to Blank
  • Missing memory lane

    The meandering country road, and the prison at the end of it, were untouched frontiers for David Hilfiker.

    But, as the Buckingham Correctional Center came into view, he was pricked with a slight twinge of déjà vu. The facility at the end of the lane looked vaguely familiar, but that was to be expected and could easily be explained away as an anomaly born of past experiences.

    The archetype of the traditional prison façade was not an unfamiliar sight for David. He had spent a significant portion of his career as a physician providing care and support for drug addicts with HIV and AIDS. He’d also been making regular trips to various prisons to see his friend, convicted murderer Jens Soerig, whom David believes to be innocent.

    Preoccupied by his impending visit with Jens, David didn’t give much thought to that brief brush with déjà vu until the center’s chaplain came over to where they were sitting. David’s introduction and outstretched hand caused a quizzical look to cloud the chaplain’s face. “Yeah, I remember. You were here a couple of months ago,” he said.

    It was David’s turn to appear perplexed. He’d never been to this particular prison, and he’d certainly never met this particular chaplain.

    Always a bad one for remembering names and faces, David brushed off the incident, placing the burden of blame on his chronically shoddy memory.

    Once the chaplain had moved on, David looked to Jens for confirmation that he had, in fact, never been to Buckingham before. But his friend refused to lie. “Of course you have. Three or four months ago,” he said.

    Still confused, David let the matter drop, spent a few more hours with Jens, and drove home.

    After returning home to the townhouse he shared with his wife, Marja (mar-ee-yah) David immediately consulted his calendar. One glance told him everything he needed to know. Jens and the chaplain were right—it was six months to the day since David had first been to Buckingham Correctional Center.

    Between driving to and from Buckingham and spending time with Jens, David estimated that the trip he does remember took him about ten hours total. He was flabbergasted; an entire half day had faded from his mind. “I remembered nothing from that visit—I still don’t,” he admits.
    And that was only the beginning.

    It would take David a few years after the incident at the prison to seek out and receive his diagnosis: mild-cognitive impairment, most likely Alzheimer’s disease.

    7 years, 17 minutes

    Over two decades of experience as an emergency medical technician (EMT) wasn’t enough to prepare Rick Phelps for what would happen during his final run.

    An early morning dispatch led Rick and his team to the house of a four-year-old girl who was in the throes of a serious seizure. A blue hue was beginning to overtake the child’s skin as the oxygen slowly drained from her blood. She survived the trip to the hospital, but an hour’s worth of resuscitation efforts proved ineffective and the young girl died soon after arriving.

    Being in the emergency medical field for so long, Rick was no stranger to death. But as the news of the child’s passing washed over him, the veteran responder was astonished by the unusual intensity of his emotions. “This one was different. I knew it was different and I knew I just couldn’t do this type of work anymore,” he says.

    Rick had been having trouble remembering important things for some time; the names of streets during dispatches, the meanings of particular codes, the shortcuts that could shave precious seconds off the time it took to respond to an emergency. These instances caused him great concern—what if he made the wrong turn when time was of the essence? What if his mistake cost another human being their life?

    It hadn’t happened yet, but the possibility of disaster haunted Rick each time his crew received a call. Torn between a passion for helping those in need, and the fear that one day his mind might betray him, Rick made the heart-wrenching decision to retire.

    For nearly seven years, Rick had been mentioning his cognitive concerns to his doctor. The physician first attributed Rick’s troubles to depression, ignited by delayed grief over the death of his daughter, Jody, who passed away suddenly in 1997.

    Rick missed Jody terribly, as any father would, but he didn’t think her death was the cause of his problems.

    Yielding to the knowledge and experience of his doctor, he agreed to adopt a regimen of antidepressant and antianxiety medications. When the prescriptions failed to make any significant difference in his condition, job stress was named as the next likely culprit.

    Again Rick was skeptical; he loved being an EMT, and harbored an abiding passion for the work that trumped any stress inherent to the profession. He resolved to push for an answer that made sense.

    Finally, two weeks prior to the call that heralded the end of his EMT career, Rick’s doctor referred him to a neurologist. The specialist performed a series of cognitive functioning tests before calling Rick and his wife, Phyllis June, in for a follow-up appointment.

    The life-changing visit with the neurologist lasted 17 minutes. Rick left the office with an Exelon patch and a terminal diagnosis: early-onset dementia, most likely Alzheimer’s disease.

    A mother’s instinct

    Jean DelCampo had a motherly spirit that pervaded every aspect of her life. When her children were young, she prided herself on keeping an immaculate house and having dinner on the table by 5:00 pm every night.

    So when Jean drove by a gentleman on the side of the road who looked tired and alone, she felt
    compelled to stop and offer him a ride. After driving the man to the next city, he got out of the car and walked off. Before he left, Jean gave him her coat so he wouldn’t catch cold. It was only later that Jean would realize the potential danger that her motherly instincts had exposed her to.

    The incident was the latest in a series of unexplained driving mishaps for Jean, who seemed to keep getting lost, even though she knew every street in town. Her doctors said her troubles were being caused by anxiety, bipolar disease, depression—but none of their treatments were very helpful.

    Jean eventually moved in with her daughter, Michele De Socio, because she could no longer live safely on her own.

    One weekend Michele and her husband went away, leaving Jean in the capable hands of Michele’s sister, Gina. Everyone assumed Jean would make the transition with ease, but soon after Michele and her husband left, Jean suddenly began to shake uncontrollably.

    An emergency trip to the hospital led to a stint in a psych ward that Michele refers to as “19 days of hell.” A neurologist eventually ordered a CAT scan that revealed the frontal lobes of Jean’s brain were all but gone, and she was sent to a skilled nursing facility for rehabilitation.

    The doctors still couldn’t decide on Jean’s diagnosis, but the caring mother had made a decision of her own. She knew she was sick and would only get sicker. She would protect her family, even from herself. “I’m not coming home,” she told her daughters. “I want to stay here.”

    Soon after Jean’s decision—which Michele and Gina fought tooth and nail—a neurologist eventually named Alzheimer’s as the cause of the older woman’s cognitive troubles.  (Click to Continue)

    Slide Shows, Full Article & Source:
    Fade to Blank

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    LAUREL, Miss. (WHLT) — A Laurel woman is convicted of exploitation of a vulnerable person.

    Attorney General Jim Hood said 54-year-old Lisa Byrd Mozingo pleaded guilty last week to three counts of the charge.

    While employed as a caregiver for the victim, Mozingo is accused of transferring money belonging to the victim to her own account. They said she bought cars and made withdrawals and transfers from the victim’s accounts.

    She converted more than $100,000 in mone and purchases during the nearly two years of her employment as the victim’s caregiver, Hood said.

    Jones County Circuit Court Judge Dal Williamson sentenced Mozingo to 20 years in the Mississippi Department of Corrections, with 10 to serve, 10 suspended, and five post-release supervision.

    She was also ordered to pay restitution of $100,000 and complete mandatory community service upon release.

    “I thank Judge Williamson for sentencing this woman to jail and ordering nearly full restitution,” said General Hood. “Not only is what she did against the law, but it is morally wrong to take advantage of someone for whom you have been entrusted to care.”

    Full Article & Source:
    Laurel woman convicted of financial exploitation of a vulnerable person.

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    There is no pretty way to put this: The saga of Rochester City Court Judge Leticia Astacio has been ugly and utterly disappointing.

    Since a judge convicted Astacio of driving while intoxicated in August 2016 and sentenced her to a conditional discharge of a year:

    • Her sentence was extended to February 2018 after she pleaded guilty in November 2016 to violating two of her conditions — abstaining from alcohol and not driving under the influence.
    • An arrest warrant was issued for her on May 30 after she failed to appear for a court hearing (she was reportedly in Thailand).
    • A declaration of delinquency was also filed against Astacio for neglecting to submit to a urine test previously requested.
    Eight months ago, this Editorial Board called on Astacio to resign. Barred from non-public areas of the county's judicial buildings and relieved her of all her judicial responsibilities, she cannot do the job voters entrusted her to do when elected.

    We stopped short of calling for her to be removed from the bench, however. We sincerely hoped she would seek help for what could be alcohol use disorder and return to the bench as an inspiration for others. In her short time on the bench, she earned a reputation as a judge who is more interested in rehabilitating defendants than punishing them. She is respected and appreciated by communities that believe the judicial system treats people of color too harshly. 

    But that has not happened and now, she is the subject of derision. Cries for Astacio to be removed — a decision that would mean she could never serve in New York as a judge again — grow louder.  Questions abound about why she continues to collect a salary and why she can't simply be fired.

    Yes, a judge who flouts the law seriously jeopardizes the confidence of the public in the legal system.  But this case is an example of a bigger problem that must be addressed: the need for more transparency about disciplinary proceedings and more options to discipline a judge.

    Since the late 1970s, the state Commission on Judicial Conduct has advocated for an expansion of authority of the Court of Appeals to suspend a judge with or without pay and for the ability of the commission to make its investigations public after a decision to formally charge a judge with misconduct.

    The state Legislature should make this longtime request a reality by working with the commission to create smart legislation and voting for a change in the law.

    In 35 states, formal disciplinary proceedings against a judge become public at the point the judge is served with charges, In New York, the entire process is confidential unless a judge waives confidentiality. New York must become more transparent.

    The Court of Appeals must also be given expanded authority to suspend a judge without pay as an intermediate measure. It cannot do so right now. Currently, the Court of Appeals can suspend a jurist only if the judge is charged with a felony or with a misdemeanor that involves moral turpitude, or if the commission has filed a determination that the judge should be removed from office.

    Only two of 27 judges disciplined for excessive use of alcohol have been successfully removed by the commission over the past 40 years. Both were drunk while presiding in court.

    The removal of a judge from the bench should not be taken lightly. But it shouldn't be this difficult, either. Justice demands a better approach.

    Full Article & Source:
    Editorial: Astacio case shows need to reform how New York disciplines judges

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    After a landlord’s mass eviction at a heavily Jewish Brooklyn nursing home caused panic three years ago, the Legal Aid Society is suing the state’s Department of Health to keep it from happening again, the Daily News reported Thursday.

    The suit stems from the 2014 effort to evict seniors from the Prospect Park Residence in Brooklyn. Advocates fought those evictions, effectively postponing them by three years before winning residents significant cash payouts.

    Now, Legal Aid’s lawsuit seeks to force the Health Department to adopt new rules to help seniors when landlords seek to shut down nursing homes. The suit demands that the Health Department help seniors relocate when evicted from nursing homes regulated by the department, according to the Daily News.

    The Health Department said in a statement to the paper that it had acted appropriately with regard to the evicted seniors. “As part of the department’s oversight of Prospect Park Residence, all federal and state laws pertaining to the operation of the facility and resident’s rights were followed,” the department said.

    Full Article & Source:
    After Brooklyn Nursing Home Controversy, Legal Aid Sues N.Y. Over Eviction Laws

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    Join us this evening at 7:00 PM CST as Teresa Tozo Lyles, along with Atty: JoAnne Denison, co-authors of the book “65 minutes: a tale of torture and murder in guardianship”, discuss the guardianship of Teresa’s mother and the events that led up to it, and the aftermath.

    The book is mostly about my mom, but it is also about my relationship with my mom. She was put under guardianship in May 2011 after a 65 minute competency hearing, where she went without her attorney. In Alachua County, Florida, this is against the law. Our county is not “pro se.” I confirmed this with the State Attorney and a probate attorney. My mom died on May 24, 2015 in a nursing home that was operating illegally without a license:

    1) In 1999, my father died after an illness from lung cancer due to asbestos poisoning. After he passed, I worked with a Miami based law firm to file multiple law suits on behalf of my dad for my mom. My 2 sisters refused to be a part of the process. Within a year, my mom was receiving settlement checks.

    2) My mom, aunt and uncle moved to the Gainesville area in December 1999.

    3) In 2001, I started my Ph.D. at the University of Florida

    4) In 2004, I went through a very bad break up after being married 25 years and 3 children. I was still in grad school. I got no child support for 5 1/2 years. My mom, aunt and uncle helped my children and I get through these difficult times, while I tried to get on my feet.

    5) In 2007, my uncle passed, and then my 2 sisters began talking about putting my mom and aunt in a nursing home. My 3 daughters and I were the primary caregivers for both ladies.

    6) In 2009, my mom gave me a loan to buy a truck after my old car died. My sisters found out and began to harass me about the loan.

    7) My sisters continued to make attempts to put my aunt and mom in facilities in 2009, 2010. In late 2010 and early 2011, one of my children got very ill, and was basically in ICU for a long period of time. It was during this time that they began their plot to put my mom under guardianship. They hired a local attorney to begin the process.

    8) In April 2011, I was contacted by DCF for the first time. There were three calls all together. They were called by my older sister and her abusive boyfriend at the time. They claimed I was abusing my mom, and taking her money. DCF dropped all charges and found them unsubstantiated. This was the same for the 2nd and 3rd calls.

    9) In June 2011, she was appointed an emergency temporary guardian, who was personal friends with one of my sisters, and who also had the SAME attorney as the one that my sisters had hired. This is cause for recused. In September 2011, she was appointed a permanent guardian. My mom had a will, but it was ignored.

    10) My mom’s wishes were to stay her in home, but she was drugged and removed from her home on May 25, 2012 and taken to the lock down portion of the facility . I had no idea where they were taking her or what day they were doing it.

    11) After only 26 days in the first facility with drugging, taking away her glasses and her dentures, my mom was taken to the ER for the first time with dehydration, a UTI and malnourished. She called me from the ER on my cell phone. According to all three guardians, these actions were “in my mom’s best interest.”

    12) The first guardian was asked to resign in June 2013. During this time, the harassment continued, and constantly trying to prevent me and my children from seeing my mom. During this time,I lost visitation because I refused to agree to “speak English only” to my mom, and also because I approached my mom in church and gave her a kiss.

    She continued to be drugged, including issuing a “Chemical Restraint.”

    13) A new guardian was appointed in August 2013, she moved my mom to another facility, which was ant infested and in a horrible neighborhood in the next county. I didn’t know where my mom was for 48 hours. This 2nd guardian died in January 2014. She had a terminal illness and was on multiple medications, which was never disclosed in court and according to law, she was not eligible to become a guardian. I did not see my mom for 6 weeks from Nov. 12 to Dec 25, 2013 without a court order.

    14) My mom’s 3rd guardian was appointed in April 2014, which mean my mom was without a guardian for about 3 months. She continued to be drugged.

    My mom fell about 30 times in the time she was out of her home, including multiple head injuries. While she was under my care up until 2011, she never went to the ER for a fall.

    15) 9 months prior to my mom dying, this 2nd facility lost it’s license to operate, but they kept paying the guardian, and kept taking my mom’s money to pay this facility. The co-owner of this facility was a convicted felon, who also happened to be a friend of the 3rd guardian.

    16) In March 2015, the guardian attempted to convince a medical team at the local hospital to put my mom under Hospice, but they refused. Three days later, the guardian contacted the local hospice, and put my mom under hospice care. I was not “put on the list” of family to speak to hospice. I was unable to even speak to hospice about my mom.

    My mom’s money was running out, so they needed to kill her quickly.

    17) 5 days before she died, I was threatened with arrest, which they had done numerous times during the guardianship.

    Let me know if you have any questions.

    ~Teresa Tozzo-Lyles, Ph.D., CHES

    LISTEN LIVE or listen to the archive later

    See Also:
    NASGA:  Carmen Tozzo Hernandez, Florida Victim

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    Marking World Elder Abuse Awareness Day next week, hundreds of awareness and information sessions will take place throughout the United States, and across the globe, observing the theme of “Understand and End Financial Abuse of Older People: A Human Rights Issue.”

    “As we see the proportion of elderly increase in all societies, the strain on the usual forms of care becomes intense,” said Dr. Christiaan Morssink, executive director for the United Nations Association of Greater Philadelphia.

    “In such scenarios, the opportunity to exploit the frailty of the elders among us increases.

    Heartbreaking stories can be told from police and medical records in each country on this planet. It is with a bit of sorrow that I need to applaud the United Nations and the world community for declaring a World Elder Abuse Awareness Day,” said Morssink.

    In 2002, the United Nations General Assembly, in its resolution 66/127, designated June 15 as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. Elder abuse is a global social issue which affects the health and human rights of millions of older persons around the world, and an issue which deserves the attention of the international community.

    Statistics from the National Council on Aging show that 1 in 10 Americans 60 and older have experienced elder abuse, and there is broad consensus that the crime is significantly under-reported. One study estimated that only 1 in 14 cases of abuse are reported to authorities. Elder financial abuse and fraud costs older Americans $36.5 billion per year and financial exploitation is self-reported at rates higher than emotional, physical, and sexual abuse or neglect.

    “Banks are on the front line for detecting signs of financial abuse, such as changes in typical banking patterns, uncharacteristic attempts to wire large sums of money and sudden insufficient funds,” said Joseph Snyder, director of Older Adult Protective Service at Philadelphia Corporation for Aging and a former president of the National Adult Protective Services Association.

    Collaborating with law enforcement, social workers, banks and community agencies is essential to prevent senior financial exploitation, according to Snyder. Along with the Philadelphia Financial Exploitation Prevention Task Force, Philadelphia Corporation for Aging will sponsor “Safe banking & financial management tips for seniors,” a free forum for seniors and caregivers at West Philadelphia’s Ralston Center.

    In the mid-west, the Minnesota Elder Justice Center will host its 11th annual Minnesota World Elder Abuse Awareness Day Conference at the Earle Brown Heritage Center in Brooklyn Center.

    “It’s designed for professionals, but it’s absolutely open to the public,” said Elder Justice Center Outreach coordinator Katie Behrens. “Anyone with an interest in working to eliminate elder abuse” is welcomed to attend the conference, “Accelerating Towards Justice,” which focuses on professionals who work with older adults.

    AARP Maryland and Baltimore County Restoring Elder Safety Today (BC-REST) will host a forum and document shredding event at Baltimore County’s Randallstown Community Center, one of many AARP and its network are hosting throughout the nation commemorating the Day.

    “Here in Virginia, the Department of Social Services Adult Protective Services is charged with investigating reports of elder abuse, including acts of financial exploitation, and assisting seniors who may be victims of abuse and their families to obtain help,” said Elizabeth Boehmcke. a lawyer practicing estate planning.

    “As practitioners within the elder law community, we also run across situations in which a family member expresses concern about how their loved one is being treated by a neighbor, caregiver or sometimes even other family members. Determining when it is appropriate to call APS to report suspected elder abuse in our clients can be a difficult dilemma,” said Boehmcke.

    World Elder Abuse Awareness Day represents the one day in the year when the whole world voices its opposition to the abuse and suffering inflicted to some of our older generations. This year’s theme underscores the importance of preventing financial exploitation, in the context of elder abuse, to the enjoyment of older persons’ human rights.

    Through the many events and activities acknowledging World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, the public will have ample opportunities to improve its understanding of this form of elder abuse and discuss ways of ensuring the participation of older adults themselves in ending victimization.

    Full Article & Source:
    Awareness Day aims to end financial abuse of the elderly

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    ROCHESTER, N.Y. — An embattled City Court judge was escorted Monday from judicial chambers in handcuffs.

    Rochester court deputies and city police officers executed a bench warrant issued for Judge Leticia Astacio's arrest last week after she missed a Tuesday court appearance related to an August drunken-driving conviction.

    Astacio, a Rochester City Court judge, smiled and said hello to the gaggle of reporters waiting for her at the fifth floor elevator bank of the Monroe County Hall of Justice where officers marched her off to be processed at the nearby Rochester Public Safety Building. She returned later to the courthouse for an arraignment before Judge Stephen Aronson of Canandaigua City Court, who issued the warrant and is overseeing her drunken-driving case.

    He ordered her held without bail in Monroe County Jail until a Thursday hearing. The reason she missed her court appearance last week was because she had been living in a temple with monks in the mountains of Thailand since May 3, she had texted to her lawyer.

    "You're doing everything to show you don't care what happens to your public trust," Aronson said.

    In court Monday, Aronson offered Astacio a deal: Plead guilty to violating her initial drunk-driving sentence and receive 45 days in jail, two years of probation and six months on an ankle monitor. She declined and was ordered to jail.

    On Feb. 13, 2016, Astacio was arrested around 8 a.m. ET on her way to City Court after New York state troopers were summoned to what appeared to be a one-car crash Interstate 490. She refused to take a Breathalyzer test

    On Aug. 22, she was sentenced to a one-year conditional discharge that was extended to February 2018 after she admitted violating two conditions: abstaining from alcohol and not driving under the influence.

    Astacio, a Democrat who was elected to a 10-year term in 2014, also was in court in March when she beat four allegations that she violated the conditions of her sentence. One alleged that she twice drank alcohol, and three others were related to the use and maintenance of her ignition interlock device, which prevents a vehicle from starting if a driver has had too much to drink.

    In May, Astacio was summoned to court after her interlock device on April 29 registered a blood-alcohol-content reading of 0.0651%. A vehicle will start only if a person's blood-alcohol content is below 0.03%.

    Astacio, who worked as a prosecutor for a time in 2009 in the Driving While Intoxicated Bureau of the Monroe County District Attorney's Office, denied consuming alcohol and contended that her daughter had registered the reading, said her lawyer, Ed Fiandach. It is not illegal for another person to drive a car outfitted with an interlock device meant for someone else.

    After the reading, which Fiandach said occurred near the beginning of May, Aronson asked that Astacio take a urine test that detects ethyl glucuronide, a byproduct of alcohol, and submit the results to the court. She did not, so she was summoned to court Tuesday and did not appear because she was in Thailand.

    Why Astacio had not been arrested when she returned to the United States over the weekend was not immediately clear. She had told Fiandach that she had bought a one-way ticket to Thailand and would be there until some time in August.

    She returned to Rochester because her supervising judge, Justice Craig Doran of the New York State Supreme Court, had directed she attend a 9 a.m. Monday meeting in his office at the Monroe County Hall of Justice, expressing concern in a letter that her behavior constituted a "voluntary abandonment of public office" that would be deemed a breach of her judicial responsibilities if she failed to show up.

    "You are self-sabotaging any chance you have to return to the bench," Aronson said in court, telling Astacio that her attitude appeared to be contemptuous.

    Though she still receives her paycheck, Astacio has been prohibited from presiding over cases since before her drunken driving conviction in August and has been barred from entering non-public areas of the courthouse since November. She has continued to receive her $173,700 salary because she remains an elected judge.

    Astacio will again be working for her pay upon her release from jail — whenever that may be.

    Her supervisors, state Supreme Court Judge Craig Doran and City Court Judge Teresa Johnson, told Astacio Monday that she will required to conduct research in the courthouse law library Monday through Friday, whenever court is in session.

    Full Article & Source:
    New York judge arrested, led from courthouse in handcuffs

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    • Eric Conn, the flamboyant Eastern Kentucky lawyer who pleaded guilty in March in a $600 million Social Security fraud scheme, has disappeared
    • Conn removed his electronic monitoring device in violation of his bond and authorities don't know where is is 
    • He pleaded guilty to stealing from the Social Security Administration and paying bribes to a judge to rubber-stamp disability claims for thousands of his clients
    • Conn remained free on bond pending his sentencing next month, but a judge had ordered him to be on home detention with electronic monitoring
    • Employees in Conn’s office had heard him say he would flee to Cuba or Ecuador to avoid criminal charges
    • Conn is believed to have wired substantial sums of money out of the country
    A Kentucky disability attorney who stole $600 million from the federal government has vanished, according to the FBI.

    Eric C. Conn, a flamboyant Kentucky lawyer who billed himself as 'Mr. Social Security,' was indicted on allegations in March that he made millions by paying a doctor and a judge to rubber-stamp false disability claims using phony medical evidence.

    He was ordered to pay back tens of millions of dollars and was due to be sentenced next month.

    Bit now the FBI said has revealed that Conn violated the conditions of his bond by removing his electronic monitoring device prompting the U.S. District Court to issue a warrant for his arrest.

    General counsel for the FBI's Louisville office, David Habich, said that Conn's 'whereabouts are currently unknown.'

    Conn was charged with designing an intricate scheme and using his expertise and positions of authority, to fraudulently induce payment of $600 million in federal disability and healthcare benefits,' Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell said at the time.

    Incredibly, Conn had escaped legal consequence for years, even after the Social Security Administration last summer cut off disability payments to hundreds of his clients in the impoverished coalfields of eastern Kentucky and West Virginia.

    Conn continued to practice law and remains in good standing with the Kentucky Bar Association.

    In 2013, the U.S. Senate released a scathing report titled 'How Some Legal, Medical and Judicial Professionals Abused Social Security Disability Programs for the Country's Most Vulnerable: A Case Study of the Conn Law Firm.'

     For 161 pages, the report detailed the lengths to which investigators say they went to hide the alleged scheme.

    It accused Conn of paying the doctors, whom he called his 'whore doctors,' to sign dubious medical reports showing his clients were disabled. The claims were then approved by another doctor,often without a hearing.

    At the time of his arrest, the federal prosecutor, Trey Alford, argued against Conn's release, saying he poses a flight risk and has indicated he would flee, that he has transferred money overseas, including in others' names to make it harder to track, and that his home is for sale.

    Such fears now appear to have been well founded.

    Conn opened his practice in a trailer in 1993 in his hometown of Stanville, Kentucky, population 500, according to the Senate investigation.

     From there he built the third-most lucrative disability firm in the nation, bringing in more than $20 million in fees between 2001 and 2013.

    He became a local celebrity for his over-the-top advertising campaigns. He dispatched crews of 'Conn Hotties' to events, hired Miss Kentucky to appear in commercials and had a 19-foot replica of the Lincoln Memorial erected in the parking lot of his office.

    A senate investigation alleges Conn's firm shredded 26,000 pounds of documents, more than 2.5 million sheets of paper, and destroyed more in a bonfire behind his office that burned for four days.

    Full Article & Source:
    Attorney called Mr Conn who stole $600m worth of social security from the government VANISHES one month before his sentencing

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    About 140 judges and magistrates from around Ohio are in the Mahoning Valley for the four-day annual conference of the state’s probate, domestic relations and juvenile court judges.

    The event, based at the Avalon Inn, began Monday with a 41/2-hour program for probate judges and magistrates concerning the probate court’s role in combating financial exploitation of elderly people.

    “It’s beyond frequent; it’s epidemic,” retired Trumbull County Probate Judge Thomas Swift said of financial abuse of the elderly.

    Sometimes, family members, who are substance abusers, take elderly people’s medications and money, said Judge Swift, who sits three or four days a week as a visiting judge.

    “We’re starting to see more and more in the abuse area, people taking advantage of power of attorneys of the elderly, and scams from flim-flam artists,” as the population ages, said Mahoning County Probate Judge Robert Rusu.

    The opening speaker, Dr. Ronan Factora of the Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Geriatric Medicine, said most elderly victims of financial exploitation aren’t wealthy.

    “Just that Social Security check – a little bit of money on a monthly basis – is enough for a family member to be tempted to take advantage of them,” Dr. Factora said.

    Physically frail and mentally- impaired elderly people have an elevated risk of being financially exploited because they’re dependent on other people to care for them and manage their affairs, he said.

    One conference attendees is Judge Mark Spees of Auglaize County Common Pleas Court, who handles probate, juvenile and domestic relations matters.

    “It’s a good way to get education and a good way to affiliate with your other judges and swap ideas,” Judge Spees said of the gathering.

    Judge Spees, who has held his combined judgeship since 1993, is a graduate of Canfield High School, Youngstown State University and the Ohio Northern University School of Law.

    The conference “brings together colleagues from across the state, who will work together to improve the judicial system,” said Mahoning County Juvenile Court Judge Theresa Dellick.

    “The Mahoning and Trumbull County specialty judges have been planning for the event since last August and are honored to host this year’s conference,” Judge Dellick added.

    “It’s for [continuing] education and for networking,” among judges and magistrates, Mahoning County Domestic Relations Judge Beth A. Smith said of the gathering.

    “I’m excited to showcase our area,” Judge Smith said.

    Today, the judges and magistrates will get legislative and case law updates and discuss confidentiality, sealing records and access to records, best practices for jury trials, dealing with the media and use of language interpreters in court.

    This evening will feature a tour of Mill Creek Park’s Fellows Riverside Gardens and a reception and dinner there with Jim Tressel, Youngstown State University’s president as the guest speaker.

    Wednesday’s topics will include avoiding common pitfalls of social media, alternatives to juvenile detention and handling special needs litigants in the courtroom, followed by the annual banquet at the Avalon Inn featuring Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor of the Ohio Supreme Court as the guest speaker.

    Thursday’s agenda includes sessions on complex trauma and brain injury, civil protection orders, child custody and community outreach and collaboration.

    The Mahoning Valley previously hosted the conference in 1985, 1995 and 2003.

    Full Article & Source:
    Statewide judges’ meeting underway here

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    June 05, 2017 11:25 PM

    Judge Leticia Astacio was handcuffed and escorted by deputies to her court hearing Monday morning.

    Judge Aronson made an offer good for 24 hours: plead guilty to the charge of declaration of delinquency and get 45 days in jail, plus two years of probation. The declaration of delinquency is for Astacio's failure to give a court ordered urine sample after an interlock reading that tested positive.

    On Monday Judge Astacio declined the offer. She will remain in jail until a hearing on Thursday.

    Judge Astacio walked into the Hall of Justice Monday morning for her meeting with her supervisor, Judge Craig Doran. The meeting was in Judge Doran's office on the 5th floor.

    About 15 minutes after Judge Astacio arrived, three Rochester Police Officers arrived on the 5th floor and walked towards Judge Doran's chambers.

    Judge Astacio's attorney, Ed Fiandach said, "This is not good. This is not a good sign."

    There was an outstanding bench warrant waiting for Judge Astacio.

    Judge Astacio was ordered back to Rochester from Thailand where her attorney said she was living in the mountains with monks. Judge Doran said leaving the country for an extended period of time was possibly in violation of her job. Judge Astacio's lawyer says he couldn't reach her because she was in Thailand and Verizon shut down her service over an unpaid bill.

    Judge Astacio also missed a court date last week involving alleged interlock violations from her DWI arrest last year. When she missed the court date, the judge for the DWI case, Judge Aronson, issued a bench warrant for her.

    "You buy a ticket and come from halfway around the world to appear in court, that's I think good enough evidence that you intend to appear,” says Ed Fiandach. “Our state's highest court has made it very clear that the purpose of bail is only to ensure that a person shows up in court and I think she's already expressed an ability and the desire to be in court by virtue of the fact that she's here today knowing - quite frankly - what was going to happen to her."

    Voters react

    "She deserves a second chance, but maybe not a second chance as a judge -- doing something else," says Krash Myz.

    Krash Myz of Rochester says judges are held to a higher standard. He says City Court Judge Letitia Astacio has failed to maintain that standard. He questions if she can't manager herself, how can she judge the actions of others?

    "You think that a judge is suppose to be more responsible and set an example to the people she is suppose to be judging," says Myz.

    Monday, after Astacio appeared in court and was remanded to jail, people told us it's not Astacio's apparent problem with alcohol, but her behavior and seemingly constant run-in's with the law since her initial arrest last August. In particular, leaving the country and missing her last court appearance.

    "I don't think she should get a second chance, but I'm happy that she did agree to come back to the country," says Stephen Welker.

    Melodie Valenciano says everyone messes up and makes mistakes. She thinks if Astacio can show that she is seeking help and changes, she should be able to return to her job.

    Valenciano tells us: "There's been a lot of statements made. I haven't heard that they've been verified... Everything's like hearsay to me. That's why I would like to give her the benefit of the doubt."

    "She needs to prove herself, that she can be a good judge and make good decisions," she adds.

    Full Article, Videos & Source:
    Judge Astacio arrested, sent to jail until Thursday's hearing

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    WSMV Channel 4 NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - A complaint filed with the Board of Professional Responsibility about Judge Casey Moreland and attorney Bryan Lewis also included a mention of a 2010 solicitation of prostitution charge for an attorney who would go on to become a Williamson County judge.

    The complaint was filed one day after the Channel 4 I-Team investigation on a death investigation of a woman just days after she went on a weekend trip with Moreland and Lewis.

    The complaint also includes a section that mentions the arrest of Williamson County Judge Michael Binkley, who was an attorney at the time.

    According to the complaint, and confirmed independently by the I-Team by a source who was there at the time, Binkley’s case was heard by Moreland.

    The complaint reads that Binkley’s charge was dismissed and then quickly expunged.

    The I-Team has been investigating the circumstances surrounding the dismissal of this case for two months.

    Last week, the I-Team asked Moreland for an interview to discuss Binkley’s case and other topics.

    Moreland later told chief investigative reporter Jeremy Finley by phone that he could not discuss the case because it had been expunged.

    There is no record of Binkley’s case in the Davidson County court system, which is typical when an expungement occurs.

    The complaint described the dismissal and expungement as done in a, “highly unusual manner, both in timing and procedure.”

    The I-Team did speak with Judge Binkley, who said he had no comment.

    Binkley’s attorney at the time, Ed Yarbrough, also said he had no comment.

    Full Article & Source:
    Arrest of Williamson County judge included in judicial complaint

    See Also:
    Casey Moreland to take leave from bench

    Judge dismissed tickets, fines for female friend

    Metro General Sessions Judge Casey Moreland resigns as presiding judge

    Ethics Complaint Levels Charges Against Two Judges, Lewis

    Investigation underway into inmate/deputy relationship in judge’s court

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    JEFFERSON CITY, MO/June 5, 2017 (STL.News) Sentencing – In a case jointly prosecuted by the office of Attorney General Josh Hawley and St. Francois County Prosecuting Attorney Jerrod Mahurin, St. Francois County Circuit Court Judge Sandra Martinez has sentenced Christina Halter, 52, and her husband, Donald Halter, 56, to 82 years and 60 years, respectively, in the Department Corrections. Judge Martinez also ordered the Halters to pay $10.3 million in medicaid fraud penalties and $331,709 in restitution.

    Christina and Donald Halter co-owned a residential care facility in Park Hills, Missouri. The Halters used their position as facility owners to financially exploit a veteran under their care, taking some $115,000. In addition, the Halters submitted to Medicaid over 1,000 false claims for services that were not provided to residents of their facility, amounting to over $28,000. Finally, the Halters failed to file an income tax return, failed to pay their income tax liability, and attempted to evade income tax liability for tax year 2012.

    On March 23, 2017, a St. Francois County jury found Christina Halter guilty of one count of medicaid fraud, two counts of financial exploitation, one count of obstructing a medicaid fraud investigation, one count of failing to file an income tax return, one count of failing to pay income tax, and one count of attempting to evade income tax liability. Following Christina Halter’s conviction, on March 28, 2017, Donald Halter pled guilty in St. Francois County Circuit Court to the same seven counts.

    On June 2, 2017, Judge Martinez sentenced Christina Halter to 7 years for medicaid fraud, 1 year for obstructing a medicaid fraud investigation, 30 years for each count of financial exploitation, and 5 years a piece for her failure to file, pay, and attempt to evade income tax liability. Judge Martinez sentenced Donald Halter to 7 years for medicaid fraud, 4 years for obstructing a medicaid fraud investigation, 20 years for each count of financial exploitation, and 3 years a piece for his failure to file, pay, and attempt to evade income tax liability. Judge Martinez ordered that both Halters sentences be served concurrently. In addition to their prison terms, Judge Martinez ordered the Halters to pay $10.3 million in medicaid fraud penalties, $115,000 in restitution to the veteran victim, $28,273.70 in restitution to Missouri’s Medicaid program, $169,642.20 in damages to Missouri’s Medicaid program, and $18,793.79 in tax liability, interest, and penalties.

    The case was tried by Assistant Attorneys General Shannon Kempf and Brad Crowell from the office of Attorney General Josh Hawley.

    Full Article & Source:
    Sentencing of Christina and Donald Halter Announced by AG Hawley

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    BOWLING GREEN — A local lawyer found himself on the wrong side of the defendant's table Tuesday as he was arraigned on 14 felonies charging him with stealing more than $400,000 from a client.

    Robert Searfoss III, 40, of Perrysburg was named in a secret indictment handed up by a Wood County grand jury last week charging him with two counts of aggravated theft, four counts of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, four counts of money laundering, three counts of theft, and one count of grand theft.

    The indictment alleges that between April, 2015, and April, 2017, Mr. Searfoss stole about $435,000 from Eric Walker and the Alice C. Walker Revocable Trust, for which he was the trustee.

    The indictment includes numerous specifications that seek forfeiture of real estate he owned on Georgetown Drive in Bowling Green and Shawnee Drive in Perrysburg, his law practice on Oak Street in Bowling Green, and two vehicles.

    Mr. Searfoss appeared in court shackled and wearing an orange jail jumpsuit and was returned to the Wood County jail on $500,000 bond.

    His court-appointed attorney, Kurt Bruderly, had asked the court for some kind of supervised recognizance bond saying Mr. Searfoss would voluntarily surrender his law license, reside with his parents in Bowling Green, and seek a “blue-collar” job.

    “A search warrant was executed at his residence about six days prior to this, and he did not flee the area,” Mr. Bruderly said. “He remained in … the Wood County area. He had every opportunity to know what was coming and flee, but he did not do that.”

    Thomas Matuszak, chief assistant county prosecutor, told the court that Mr. Searfoss had a pending disciplinary case before the Ohio Supreme Court and an outstanding arrest warrant issued in Michigan.

    “We have not been able to trace all of the stolen proceeds, which is believed to be in the neighborhood of $435,000, so the defendant might have the ability to post some sort of cash bail or bond,” Mr. Matuszak said.

    Judge Alan Mayberry agreed.

    “Given the Michigan warrant, given the number and severity of the counts as well as the [potential] forfeiture and fines, it would appear that there is a risk that the defendant may not appear,” the judge said. “Given that, the court would set bond sufficient to cover the alleged amount” of stolen funds.

    Wood County Prosecutor Paul Dobson said members of the public often entrust their attorney with large sums of money, for a variety of reasons.

    “Lawyers operate in a system of trust,” Mr. Dobson said. “As lawyers, we take that position very seriously and are intolerant of allegations of violations of that trust.”

    Mr. Bruderly said Mr. Searfoss, a father of seven children, has a child living in Grand Traverse County, Mich., and the warrant from there was likely related to missed child-support payments.

    A graduate of the University of Toledo college of law, Mr. Searfoss established his law practice in 2007 and was “committed to clients,” the firm's Facebook page says.

    Full Article & Source:
    Lawyer arraigned on 14 theft charges

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