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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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    Archangels of Justice is a podcast that follows two experienced private investigators, as they look into different cases involving misclassified murders, law enforcement corruption, and the wrongfully imprisoned. 

    Each series will take the listener on a journey through these complex cases and give the families point of view along with law enforcement and crime scene experts. Investigators, Salvatore E. Rastrelli and Ira B. Robins review actual cases to identify the problems within the justice system and determine the cures. 

    They seek to reverse the breakdown in public trust, alleviate the hostility on both sides, and reduce the number of senseless deaths. Both are former police officers and private investigators with more than 88 years combined investigative experience. It’s been easy for law enforcement to misclassify crimes like murders as suicides or robberies as thefts because of inept police work, to reduce their crime statistics, or to tip the scales to wrongfully convict someone they decide is guilty, or to protect one of their friends. 

    They cover-up their own criminal conduct involving wrongful death and brutality by hiding facts and lying. Rastrelli and Robins have the courage to assist those who have had their civil rights trampled by corrupt police and prosecutors. 

    They review cases submitted by victim’s families, find the ineptitude or misconduct, and reveal methods to alleviate the problems in order to effect change. 

    Each series, will take the viewer on journey, as they will see both sides of the issue and the facts will be presented in way that ultimately the viewer has to decide what they believe. 

    Our hope is that this will lead to a serious public conversation about the training and responsibilities of our Law Enforcement. The Archangels of Justice are will lead this conversation to make sure Law Enforcement and Courts answer for their mistakes.

    View the podcast on ITunes

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    SALT LAKE CITY — Family members of embattled Salt Lake County Recorder Gary Ott are seeking legal permission to make decisions for him, according to court documents that a judge acted on Monday.

    An attorney for his brother, Marty Ott, and his sister, Kathy Ott Chamberlain, filed a petition for the "appointment of guardian and conservator of incapacitated adult" in Salt Lake City's 3rd District Court on Friday.

    Judge Mark Kouris on Monday signed an order at the family's request, as well as temporary orders related to guardianship and financial decision-making.

    But Ott's office aide, who many have identified as Ott's girlfriend, said Monday that she is the county recorder's would-be guardian and financial manager.

    Few details were available about the judge's decision. The documents remain sealed, and Chamberlain referred comment to her attorney Mary Corporon.

    Corporon, who is also Gary Ott's ex-wife, declined to comment about the case.

    "At this point, we don't have anything that ought to be public," Corporon said. "These kinds of cases are private for a reason. They're extremely sensitive."

    The document also names Kristine Ott Williams as a petitioner.

    Gary Ott has been the target of public scrutiny for a year and a half as questions about his health have surfaced following a series of Deseret News stories. Colleagues say his visits to the office have been much more sporadic in recent months, raising additional concerns about his well-being. Earlier this month he made a series of incoherent statements in a 45-minute interview with the Deseret News.

    Karmen Sanone — the aide who describes herself as Ott's "longtime friend" who has also been identified as his girlfriend and fiancee — said Monday that she and Ott were dumbfounded by the family's court filings. Sanone said Ott's family has not been involved in his life for years, and said she believes the court filings are financially motivated.

    Sanone said for the first time that she is identified in Ott's living will — which she estimates was created three or four years ago — as his would-be guardian and financial manager if the need arises. The pair was on their way back from a restaurant, Sanone said Monday night, and Ott declined when she asked if he wanted to talk to a reporter.

    "I'm just very concerned. Gary's with me. He's shocked. We just finished dinner," she said.

    The pair's relationship is part of Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill's monthslong investigation into Ott's situation, as well as allegations that Ott lives outside of Salt Lake County and allegations that Sanone and Ott's chief deputy, Julie Dole, are taking advantage of Ott's situation. Both women have denied those allegations.

    "There is no nepotism," Sanone said Monday evening.

    Marty Ott could not be reached for comment Monday. Earlier this month, however, he expressed concerns about his brother’s finances. A “notice of default” obtained by Ott’s own Salt Lake County Recorder’s Office indicated that Gary Ott hadn’t been paying his home equity loan for almost a year.

    He said the "question of the hour" was where his brother's paycheck been going over the past 11 months. "That's a big question," Marty Ott said, adding that the default notice "absolutely" amplified his concerns for his brother.

    Gary Ott earns nearly $190,000 annually in salary and benefits.

    Sanone blamed an account number for the lack of payments. She said the loan default matter was a surprise to Ott and would be quickly sorted out.

    Marty Ott said he and other family members have been troubled by his brother's situation and they planned to advocate for the man's best interests.

    "All of our focus and energy is being directed to one thing: Gary's well-being," Marty Ott said on June 14.

    Gill on Monday praised Gary Ott's "lifetime of devoted service" to the county, saying the situation is a tragic one.

    "I share the same concerns about Gary and his health and I'm happy to see some family members are stepping up," Gill said, saying he wants the best for Ott.

    Issues surrounding Ott have led to a series of recent closed sessions by the Salt Lake County Council, which last week announced plans to use its power of the purse strings to take action against the recorder's office. A discussion of the budget for the recorder's office was set for Tuesday but has been postponed.

    That comes after at least two closed meetings with the district attorney to discuss a "personnel matter," according to the council's agenda.

    Bound by closed meetings rules, council members have been tight-lipped about the details of those discussions, but the meetings came after Mayor Ben McAdams called for Ott's resignation following the Deseret News' ongoing investigation into Ott's well-being.

    Earlier this month, Sanone said Ott, 66, is considering retirement before the end of his current term, which ends in 2020.

    Full Article & Source:
    Sister, brother file for legal guardianship of embattled county recorder

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    Abuse is a word that most people do not like to talk about. Abuse happens all over the world, which is scary in itself. It has been reported that thousands of adult Oklahomans suffer Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation by family members and other caregivers each year. Many of the victims are elderly, and possibly frail and vulnerable. They are unable to help themselves and depend on others to meet their basic needs.

    Many older people are too ashamed to speak of abuse of any kind. This is why most abuse occurs without being reported. The abuse may occur in their own home, in relatives’ homes, and even in a long term care facility that is responsible for their care.

    Abuse does not happen in every long term care facility. Many long term care facilities provide quality care, but even one allegation of abuse is one too many. Visiting our elderly in the long term care facilities is very important. By visiting we can be the eyes and ears that they need to help stop abuse.

    Become an Ombudsman Volunteer, you can help make sure that the elderly in the long term care facilities are being treated with respect and dignity they deserve. To learn more about Elderly Abuse, the Ombudsman Program or to become an Ombudsman Volunteer, contact Tiffany Wingfield or Rebekah Williams at SODA Area Agency on Aging at 580-920-1388 or Senior Info. Line 1-800-211-2116 or write to them at P.O. Box 709 Durant, OK. 74702. Ombudsman Supervisors are available to speak to your group or organization upon request. Flexible training schedules are available.

    Full Article & Source:
    Many elderly are ashamed to speak of abuse

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    Gov. Chris Sununu
    As the opioid crisis continues to devastate New Hampshire, grandparents will soon have an easier time getting guardianship of grandchildren whose parents are abusing drugs.

    At a ceremony in the State House on Tuesday, Republican Gov. Chris Sununu signed House Bill 629 into law. The change will take effect in 2018 and make New Hampshire the first state in the country to give preference to grandparents in guardianship cases related to substance abuse, lawmakers said.

    Republican Rep. Mariellen MacKay filed the bill after hearing from grandparents that they weren’t getting a voice in the court process.

    “That’s their child and their grandchild; who would know better?” asked MacKay of Nashua.

    The state’s child protection division has recently seen a spike in abuse and neglect reports related to substance abuse. Nearly 470 babies were born exposed to drugs last year, slightly lower than the 2015 number, but still far above the 367 cases in 2014, according to the Division for Children, Youth and Families. Nearly 500 people died from drug overdoses in 2016, and experts say many were in their parenting years and may have left behind children.

    Treatment providers say parents with drug addiction are sometimes reluctant to seek treatment out of fear the state will take away their children. MacKay hopes the bill helps address that issue by ensuring the child can remain in the family, but under the grandparents’ care.

    “If you are the adult with the substance abuse issue, you want to be free to take care of yourself and not have to worry, ‘Am I going to lose the right to my child?’ ” she said.

    It’s not clear exactly how many grandparents in the state are raising their grandchildren, but estimates put the number at around 10,000.

    Denis and Rosemary Nugent of Antrim became guardians for their grandson after their son was incarcerated when his drug and alcohol use got “out of hand.” Though they didn’t have trouble in court, they said they support the bill to make it easier in the future for families like theirs.

    “These children are like the forgotten victims of the opioid crisis,” Denis Nugent said. The couple’s grandson, also named Denis, stood at Sununu’s right side as the first-term governor signed the bill.

    Later, the boy proudly showed his grandparents a blue pen commemorating the occasion.

    In addition to the bill related to guardianship, Sununu signed into law a study committee to look at grandfamilies in the state. The group, including legislators, child protection workers and advocates, will seek to gather data on the number of New Hampshire grandfamilies, barriers they face and actions that could improve their situations. A report is due in November.

    Full Article & Source:
    N.H. becomes first state to give grandparents preference in guardianship cases

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    Published on Jun 23, 2017
    With the rise of assisted suicide, the spotlight is on the need to protect the medically vulnerable. Bobby Schindler, the brother of Terri Schiavo, joins us as we look back on her life and discuss how we can care for our loved ones.

     Terri Schiavo’s Brother on Protecting the Medically Vulnerable

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    BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) –Prosecutors in Boardman say three nursing home workers made a mistake with drugs and a patient died because of it.

    The death at the center of the case happened in 2015 at Greenbriar Healthcare Center in Boardman.
    It took the Ohio Attorney General’s Office the next two years to put together its case, and now investigators are charging those that they say are responsible.

    Assistant Mahoning County Prosecutor Michael McBride said the Greenbriar patient died after the employees gave him the wrong drug and then tried to treat his overdose on their own.

    “We believe, and actually the coroner’s report indicates, it actually caused the death of this gentleman,” McBride said.

    Johonna Hull, 28, of East Liverpool, was arrested and charged with abuse of a patient and tampering with medical records.

    Brenda Lamancusa is also charged with patient abuse. Another person, who hasn’t yet been arrested, also faces charges.

    The victim’s identity is being protected under privacy laws.

    Complaints from nursing home deaths are investigated by the Attorney General’s Office. McBride said this case involved extensive medical review.

    In November of 2015, just after the death, Greenbriar Health Care was placed on a Medicaid “worst of the worst” watch list.

    The state noted several problems with prescription protocols and other issues.

    The facility improved enough to be taken off that watch list in February of this year.

    McBride said this is the only criminal abuse case that he has handled from the nursing home over the past several years.

    Editor’s note: This story is corrected to show that Hull is 28 years old, according to court records and the Licensing Bureau. A police report listed Hull’s age and birthdate, indicating she was 18.

    Full Article & Source:
    Workers charged in Boardman nursing home death

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    Gary Ott
    The heart-wrenching case of Salt Lake County Recorder Gary Ott could be worse. He could be a judge.

    A few years ago, at a federal court in New York, attorneys were astounded when an 84-year-old judge asked someone to explain the concept of email.

    As quoted in Pro Publica, he said to no one in particular in the courtroom, “It pops up in a machine in some administrative office, and is somebody there with a duty to take it around and give it to whoever it’s named to?”

    Email may be a difficult concept for many older people, but this particular judge had at one time competently presided over cases involving an investment banker and the information contained in a single email. Now he acted as if he had never heard of such a thing.

    But was he suddenly incompetent, or merely having a bad day? And if we make it too easy to remove someone who is losing it, do we provide another tool in the never-ending blood sport that is politics?

    I’ve encountered politicians who are nutty enough when competent that it would be hard to tell the difference.

    That said, the anecdotal evidence surrounding Ott is becoming overwhelming. So are the suggestions his close aides are covering for him, and perhaps even taking advantage of him financially.

    But we have to be careful not to make the cure for this problem worse than the problem itself.

    Judges make life-or-death decisions. County recorders preside.

    Sure, their offices record real estate transactions, liens, leases, mortgage transactions and subdivision plats, but the recorder has a competent staff to do all that. Ott presides, and if things are working well, you hardly need to be conscious to preside (insert a joke about your boss here).

    We elect recorders because all those duties I just mentioned have to be a step removed from political influences. An appointed recorder might be pressured by a politically connected boss to fudge a record. An independently elected one gets to answer all by himself for what gets recorded.

    Which is a problem, of course, if he can’t answer simple questions posed by a Deseret News reporter.

    Utah law can’t help here. It contains no provision for removing someone who is incapacitated.

    On the one hand, this is an indication of how rare such problems are. If the state has gone 121 years without having to confront such a challenge, do we really need to over-react to one highly publicized, agonizing example?

    But on the other hand, who doesn’t know someone with dementia?

    The Alzheimer’s Association reports someone acquires that degenerative brain disease every 66 seconds in this country, and Alzheimer’s is just one of several diseases that affect memory and cognitive skills. And while deaths from heart disease are down 14 percent since 2000, deaths from Alzheimer’s are up 89 percent.

    The tricky intersection between competency and dementia seems destined to become more crowded and difficult to maneuver in the future.

    So what is the remedy?

    State lawmakers tried to find one during the 2017 session. Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck, D-Salt Lake, sponsored a bill that would have allowed someone to be removed from office for mental incapacity through a petition signed by a percentage of voters, a unanimous vote from a “local legislative body” and a ruling in a state district court.

    The bill never advanced. At a hearing, it was opposed by advocates for the disabled, as well as the Utah Association of Counties.

    The problem is, people might use such a process either to destroy the reputation of a politician or to remove that person for political reasons. Determining competency is no simple thing. It’s hard enough when it plays out within the private confines of a family.

    Which is where Ott’s case ultimately belongs. His brother and sister have begun court proceedings to obtain guardianship. That may be the most logical and humane end game.

    Meanwhile, we may be indeed grateful Ott isn’t a judge, or a governor or mayor.

    That doesn’t mean such a thing won’t happen some day. It does mean we should take the time to craft a safe remedy.

    Full Article & Source:
    Jay Evensen: What is the solution for an incapacitated politician?

    See Also:
    Sister, brother file for legal guardianship of embattled county recorder

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    Paul S. Kormanik
    Financial relief is finally coming for some of the victims of a former Columbus attorney who stole money from his court-appointed wards.

    More than $200,000 is being awarded collectively to 35 former wards of Paul S. Kormanik, who was the subject of a five-part Dispatch investigative series that prompted changes in the state’s guardianship system. If dispersed evenly, each former ward would receive a touch over $5,700.

    The money will be paid out of the Lawyer’s Fund for Client Protection, which was established in 1985 to protect clients from potentially exploitative practices of attorneys. All active attorneys pay into the fund through various fees associated with the profession. Previously, two claims brought forward by Kormanik wards were reimbursed a total of $28,057.11 by the board.

    “These situations can chip away at the public’s faith in the fiduciary responsibilities that wards entrust to their guardians, some of whom are attorneys,” said Janet Green Marbley, administrator of the fund. “It’s important for the public to understand that the fund can help rebuild that trust by reimbursing wards affected by the dishonest conduct of an attorney.”

    The Columbus Bar Association brought 15 charges of misconduct against Kormanik, who forfeited his law license. Over the years he amassed about 400 probate court-appointed wards.

    In court proceedings, Kormanik pleaded guilty to four counts of theft from an elderly or disabled person, one count of theft and five counts of tampering with records.

    Kormanik was found dead in 2015 of apparent suicide. He was set to appear in court later that day to face contempt of court charges after failing to pay back one of his wards.

    The Dispatch series invoked sweeping changes in the state’s guardianship system. The “Unguarded” series caused probate judges who award guardianship, state legislators and the Ohio Supreme Court to enact reforms.

    Additionally, Attorney General Mike DeWine issued guidelines in a handbook that is required to be available to every guardian in Ohio.

    A guardian is appointed by a probate court to manage care for the affairs of a minor or incompetent adult. Being designated a guardian or ward is “one of the most restrictive protective services available under Ohio law,” according to DeWine’s handbook.

    Full Article & Source:
    Former wards, victims of attorney, awarded total of $200,000

    See Also:
    Lawyer charged with stealing from wards, bilking burial fund

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    Ansonia police arrested a mother and son for allegedly stealing tens of thousands of dollars from an elderly relative’s investment accounts.

    Kristina Ukanowicz
    Kristina, 62, and Joseph Ukanowicz, 29, of 195 Canal Street in Shelton are mother and son. They were both arrested on warrants following a two year investigation conducted by Detective Stephen Adcox into the theft of “tens of thousands of dollars” from Kristina’s mother while she was power of attorney over her mother’s finances.

    According to police, the theft took place over a three-year period while the victim was in her eighties.

    The victim’s bank and investment accounts went from having combined balances of over $200,000 to having a negative balance of over $1,000 during the time Kristina was power of attorney.

    Through his investigation, Det. Adcox showed a pattern of spending and withdrawals that increased “disproportionately” from the time period before Kristina took over as power of attorney to her time as power of attorney.
    Joseph Ukanowicz

    Det. Adcox’s investigation also identified Joseph as being involved in the theft.

    During interviews with both Kristina and Joseph, each admitted to a role in the theft but blamed each other for the majority of the theft.

    On June 16, Joseph was arrested by warrant for first degree larceny and conspiracy to commit first degree larceny.

    10 days later, Kristina was arrested by warrant for first degree larceny and conspiracy to commit first degree larceny.

    Joseph appeared in court on June 19, was held on $50,000 bond and is currently incarcerated at the Bridgeport Correctional Center.

    Kristina was held on a $35,000 bond and is scheduled to be arraigned in court today, June 27.

    Full Article & Source:
    Mother, son arrested for stealing $200,000 from elderly relative

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    Siblings! For some lucky families, having a bunch of adult siblings gather around and plan how to take care of Mom and Dad as their parents' health begins to fail is a great comfort. For some families, siblings who never got along as kids and have had little to do with each other as adults being thrown together to make touchy decisions is disastrous.

    For most families, the journey through the mine of elder care decisions falls somewhere between the two extremes. Elder care has a way of sneaking up on people. Generally, if there is an adult child living in the same town as the aging parents, it is this child who becomes, at the first sign of need, the default caregiver. That usually makes sense. You live in town. Your folks need some help with their Medicare forms, so you stop over. They need help with the yard, so you start taking time away from your family to help out. Then its grocery shopping and then, well, you're on your way to taking on a second job.

    Ideally, before things get to this stage, you've had conversations with your parents about how they want their needs met during their later years. They've made out the papers naming a Power of Attorney for Health Care (a health directive indicating who will make health decisions if they can't and detailing their preferences for treatment) and a Power of Attorney for financial affairs. A will should be part of this, as well as other personal papers. Ideally, as well, all siblings are aware of these papers, what they contain and all are in agreement. Ideally – taking care of the elders becomes a family affair. However, life is seldom ideal.

    Even in seemingly harmonious families, the person who slowly became a default caregiver can start to feel resentful. The out-of-town siblings can conveniently slide into denial. They aren't around to see how much help is needed. They see Mom and Dad occasionally, talk to them on the phone, and all seems well. The fact that you, the in-town sibling, are the reason everything is going so smoothly doesn't really register with them.

    This is a red flag for you. It's time to stop and consider how you are, as a family, going to handle the spiraling needs of aging parents. Most experts would suggest a family meeting. I agree. You, the hands-on caregiver, would explain all you do and give your siblings a chance to help.

    You'd find each other's strengths and weaknesses and work with those. You'd regularly check in with each other and update the whole family as needed. I would suggest this, because it is ideal, and many families can do this with a little work. If this works for your family, congratulations and you can quit reading here.

    Those of you who read questions and answers in the family and relationships support group will see the cold hard facts. You will see that, for many, the chances of a civil family meeting where you hash out the needs of your elders and agree who does what are, well, nil. You will see caregivers stressing over siblings accusing them of spending too much of their parents money to care for their parents. You will read the pleas for help from the one sibling who has quit his or her job to care full time for an ailing parent being either ignored by siblings, or worse, being accused of predatory intentions because they are "running the show."

    Option 1: Geriatric Care Manager

    When these ugly scenes pop up, there's usually no way to go but through a third party. It's nice if you can agree on hiring a geriatric care manager, if you can find one in your area. This person would do the managing, get the help set up, and offer a cool head to work out problems, since the manager is not emotionally involved and doesn't carry family baggage.

    Geriatric care managers are not available in every part of the country, and there is no over-reaching licensing, so you will want to do your homework. But sometimes, these people can make siblings see the light. They can help the ones in denial realize that the one doing hands-on care is "really working."

    Option 2: Counseling

    Family counseling is also a good route, if siblings are willing to work on sibling relationships for the sake of their parents. Talking through the issue with an objective third party, who can guide the conversation and keep it civil, can help families work through the challenges associated with caring for an elderly parent. It helps everyone involved to better understand the other family member's views, frustrations and challenges, and can sometimes offer a fresh perspective.

    Option 3: Elder Care Mediation

    Unfortunately, many family relationships are beyond that point. This is where elder care mediators come in. These people are trained to mediate family disputes. Likely you can find one through your local court system or in the phone book.

    Two online places to search for elder care mediation services are Eldercare Mediators at and the Association for Conflict Resolution at

    This is certainly worth trying before going to court over guardianship rights, which some families end up doing. It would be lovely if people didn't bring their baggage from childhood into adulthood, but we all do to some extent. If people could at least put sibling rivalry, greed and other undesirable behaviors aside for the sake of their elders, that would also be lovely.

    But sharing the care of elderly parents doesn't always bring out the best in people. Add to that hopes of inheriting something from the estate, and it gets worse. This is when third party help is often a good option. For, if the hands-on caregiver doesn't get help somewhere, the damage done can reach far beyond the elders. Resentments nurtured at this time can poison family relationships for generations. If you are the default family caregiver, ask siblings for help early on. Let them know they are wanted (drop the martyr act).

    If they have been given a chance and they refuse, try an agency designed to solve family issues. It could be one of the best investments you've ever made.

    Full Article & Source:
    What to Do When Siblings Can't Agree on a Parent's Care Needs

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    The mother of Brittany Maynard
    Tom House was about as robust and independent as anyone could hope to be as an octogenarian. A former Marine, private pilot and insurance broker, he was still chopping wood and going on miles-long jogs at his retirement home in Sonoma, Calif., long after his 80th birthday, relatives told the Sacramento Bee.

    But last year, congenital heart disease and colon cancer took a toll on his body. Given just months to live, the 94-year-old decided to end his life on his own terms.

    On a Monday last August, he spent the morning sharing memories with family and friends, according to NBC Bay Area. Then, with a doctor’s prescription, he drank a fatal dose of barbiturates from his favorite coffee mug and chased it with a martini. Less than an hour later, he was dead.

    “He did it his way,” his daughter-in-law Esther House told NBC, choking back tears. “He went out his way. He really did.”

    House was one of 111 people in California who took their own lives in the first six months of the state’s new right-to-die law, which allows terminally ill adults to request life-ending drugs from their doctors, according to a state health department report released Tuesday. The report offers the first snapshot of Californians who sought to end their lives under the legislation.

    California enacted the End of Life Option Act on June 9 of last year amid heated debate over the ethics of permitting physicians to give lethal medications to patients suffering from malignant cancers and other terminal diseases. It is the fifth state in the country to enact right-to-die legislation, which was first adopted by Oregon in 1997.

    Between the day California’s law took effect and Dec. 31, 2016, more than 250 people started what the law calls the “end-of-life option process,” making two verbal requests for aid-in-dying drugs, according to the report by the California Department of Public Health. Of those people, 191 received prescriptions written by 173 different physicians.

    Health officials said 111 people ingested the drugs, killing themselves. Another 21 died of natural causes before taking the medication. It’s not clear what happened to the remaining 59 people who received prescriptions, the report said.

    Those who ingested aid-in-dying drugs were mostly white, college-educated seniors who were receiving hospice or palliative care, according to the report. A little more than half were women.

    Sixty-five people were suffering from malignant cancers, while 20 had neuromuscular disorders such as Parkinson’s or Lou Gehrig’s disease. Smaller numbers had heart or lung diseases, or other unspecified maladies.

    There were six Asians, three blacks and three Hispanics, who ingested aid-in-dying drugs. The remaining 102 patients were white. Nearly all of them had insurance, most through Medicare or California’s Medi-Cal program. The median age was 73. Nearly three-quarters of patients had received at least some college education, according to the report.

    The report’s findings mirror some statistics from Oregon, where the majority of patients last year were older than 65 and had terminal cancer. Although California is more racially diverse than Oregon, the vast majority of patients who took their own lives there last year were white, according to Oregon’s 2016 report on the state’s Death With Dignity Act.

    California’s law was passed last year in a special session of the state assembly after a campaign driven by stories of terminally ill patients who were unable to access aid-in-dying drugs in the state. One such patient was Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old with stage 4 brain cancer who moved to Oregon in 2014 to end her life.

    Compassion and Choices, a leading right-to-die advocacy group, said California’s findings were good news for the law’s supporters.

    “The state’s data show that even during the early months of the law’s implementation, the law was working well and terminally ill Californians were able to take comfort in knowing that they had this option to peacefully end intolerable suffering,” Matt Whitaker, the group’s California director, said in a statement Tuesday.

    Critics of the law argue it is unethical for physicians to hasten death in anyone, and warn that it is virtually impossible to tell if drugs were prescribed to a depressed or unwilling patient. The Life Legal Defense Foundation, American Academy of Medical Ethics and a group of doctors have sued in federal court to overturn the law, arguing it violates Californians’ civil rights by stripping terminally ill patients of certain legal protections and treating them differently than other patients.

    “It’s really tragic that doctors are now thinking that the best they can do for a patient is to give them a handful of barbiturates and leave them to their own devices,” Alexandra Snyder, an attorney with Life Legal Defense Foundation, told the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday.

    John Minor, a retired psychologist from Manhattan Beach, Calif., was among those who killed themselves under the new law. He was an avid cyclist, runner and hiker until he was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis, a lung disease, in his late 70s, as NPR reported earlier this month.

    As Minor’s body deteriorated to the point where he struggled to eat or speak, he asked for aid-in-dying drugs. But his doctors refused.

    “I started cold-calling — like, just different hospitals and different departments within different hospitals,” Jackie Minor, his daughter, told NPR.

    Finally, the family found him a health plan that would write him a prescription. Last September, at the age of 80, he drank a cup of apple juice mixed with a fatal dose of the pills and died quietly, surrounded by his relatives.

    “John did what was right for him,” his wife, Sherry Minor, told the Los Angeles Times. “He died peacefully, rather than in agony, and he was in control. He didn’t feel afraid or helpless.”

    Full Article & Source:
    111 people have killed themselves under California’s new right-to-die law

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    Have a plan in case someone does wander off. Keep a list of people and phone numbers you can call on to help. Begin search efforts immediately. Ninety-four percent of people who wander are found within 1.5 miles of where they disappeared. Keep a recent, close-up photo and updated medical information on hand to give to police. Keep a list of places where the person may wander (past jobs, former homes, churches, friends’ or relatives’ homes, or restaurants) and check those places first.

    In addition to the steps mentioned above, caregivers and relatives can look at the many devices out there in the market that are designed to help locate people who wander. Here are some of the most popular ones:

    Medic Alert: The Alzheimer’s Association offers a program called MedicAlert and Safe Return. The person who wanders wears a bracelet with information and a phone number to call if someone finds them. If a person becomes lost, caregivers can call the 24-hour emergency response line to report it. A community support network will be activated, including local Alzheimer Association chapters and law enforcement agencies, to help locate the missing person. With this service, important medical information can be provided to emergency responders when the person is found through the information provided on the bracelet.

    Comfort Zone:  The Alzheimer’s Association offers a product called Comfort Zone Check-In, which can determine the location of a person and send daily scheduled location check-ins to a caregiver, indicating where a person is throughout the day. In addition to the scheduled service, the caregiver can use a “Find Me” or “Follow Me” function that provides updates every two minutes for an hour. The tracking can be done through a device the person carries in a purse or pocket or through a smart phone.

    GPS SmartSole:  GPS SmartSole is a GPS device hidden and sealed inside a shoe insole. It works like a cell phone and uses the same GPS technology. One advantage is that the device is inside the shoe so the person is less likely to lose it or not wear it. It also has a feature where you can map out an area where the person lives (for example a house), and if the person wanders away, the caregiver will receive an email or text alert that they have wandered out of their home or other safe area. Multiple caregivers can log in to check the location of the person being monitored.

    Full Article and Source:
    Wandering and Assistive Devices for Seniors With Dementia

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    Recognizing the signs of abuse or exploitation is hard, especially when the person you’re concerned about is a senior citizen in your community. Do you have an elderly relative, friend, neighbor or even customer that you fear is being abused or exploited? Maybe you have just noticed some changes in an elder’s routine or behavior that seem unusual or concerning, but aren’t sure what to do.

    In any situation where you suspect someone may need help or be unsafe, it’s important to trust your instincts, but there are some warnings signs of abuse you can look for specifically if you are worried about an elder.

    For instance, elders suffering from abuse or exploitation from a caregiver (which could include a spouse, adult child or grandchild, or a paid attendant) may suddenly no longer have access to their own debit or credit cards, checkbooks or bank accounts. They might suffer a decline in health if their abuser is withholding or neglecting medications, or other health treatments. A senior in this situation may also begin to appear malnourished or rapidly lose weight if food is being withheld or limited as a tactic of abuse or through neglect.

    Something important to keep in mind is that seniors are still vulnerable to forms of abuse such as domestic violence from an intimate partner or sexual assault or abuse from a spouse, caregiver, acquaintance or even a stranger. Elderly people may be reluctant to discuss experiencing domestic violence or sexual assault, fearing retaliatory violence from their abuser, or because they feel shame or helplessness. If you notice that an elder you know has unexplained or unusual injuries, reports being name called or otherwise verbally harassed, cannot make decisions or travel anywhere without their partner, these could be signs they are experiencing or have experienced one or more of these forms of abuse.

    Elders are also vulnerable to certain forms of exploitation typically perpetrated by strangers – such as email or phone scams. If you know a senior citizen who describes receiving suspicious messages, such as emails asking for passwords, banking information, or threatening legal action; or phone calls from people claiming to know the elder asking for money, trying to sell products or services, it is important to be skeptical and work with the senior on deciphering legitimate messages and offers from scams and phishing attempts.

    Most importantly, if you are worried for an elder you know and recognize any one or more of these warning signs, you can reach out to many agencies and services to receive help. Many law enforcement agencies, including the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, Farmington Police Department and Wilton Police Department will do elder checks if they are contacted by someone concerned for an elder in their area. Additionally, agencies like Seniors Plus offer assistance with education around scams, and have programs like Meals on Wheels and the Around Town Café voucher system to make sure elderly people receive the nutrition they need.

    Safe Voices and SAPARS also offer services specific to elderly clients. SAPARS offers drop-in advocacy to elders in Rangeley at the Rangeley Townhouse Apartments and in Philips at Sadagee Apartments, and Safe Voices also has specific emergency shelter options for elderly victims of domestic violence at our Martha’s Too apartment in Androscoggin County.

    Elders and their caregivers should definitely check out the Wilton Senior Resource Fair at the Wilton Public Safety Building on Thursday, June 22, from 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. Many local service providers will be in attendance, as well as representatives from the offices of senators Angus King and Susan Collins, and guest speakers will present on legal aid options for senior citizens and consumer protection laws in Maine.

    FMI about the Safe Voices services mentioned, please contact Hillary Hooke at or by calling 1-800-559-2927. FMI about any of the Seniors Plus services mentioned, please call 1-800-427-1241. FMI about any of the SAPARS services mentioned, or with questions about the Wilton Senior Resource Fair, please contact Danielle at 778-9522.

    Full Article & Source:
    The warning signs of elder abuse

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    Woodruff Convalescent Center received the severe penalty because the department said it found deficiencies and that it failed to adhere to state and federal laws and regulations that nursing homes must follow.

    On Jan. 4, the center received an unannounced visit from the department over complaints from a resident who fell several times, according to a department report.

    The resident, an 82-year-old blind man with dementia who was taking blood thinner medication, lived at the facility for nine weeks.

    According to the department report, the resident fell five times within the nine weeks he was there. One of those falls resulted in him suffering a head injury.

    The facility said restlessness and anxiousness were contributing factors in the falls, according to the report. In an effort to keep the man from falling, he was given a non-self-release seatbelt while he was in his wheelchair instead of a self-release belt as ordered by his doctor.

    The report said the man became agitated by the restraint and nothing was done to evaluate and revise his care.

    In early November, the man fell for the fifth time and suffered a cut to his forehead. A licensed nurse could not stop the bleeding and called 911. He was taken to a hospital and had to undergo surgery to stop a hemorrhage on the surface of his brain, according to the report.

    The man was also placed on a feeding tube. He was taken to another nursing facility for hospice care in late November and died on Dec. 4.

    The department said the facility failed to provide the necessary care and attention the resident needed, It said he was not properly supervised, did not receive neurological checks after each fall, did not receive any assessments when he received his safety belt, staff failed to monitor his behavior and safety with the restraint and failed to assess his care plan after each fall, among other violations.

    Woodruff Convalescent Center responded to the report and said it would take steps to fix the issues. The full report, along with the center's response and plan of action, can be viewed by clicking here and reading the March 30, 2017, assessment.

    Full Article & Source:
    Bellflower nursing facility fined $100K by state health department

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    The widow of Casey Kasem has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the radio personality’s three adult children from a prior relationship 40 years ago. Jean Kasem states that Kerri, Mike and Julie Kasem, along with Julie’s husband and their attorney Troy Martin, perpetrated a “homicidal guardianship scam” and, per a statement, “forcefully entrapped and chemically restrained her husband in St Anthony Hospital and then killed him to go after Casey and Jean’s financial assets,” which is exactly what they are doing now.

    Jean Kasem has also accused the Kasem adult children of extreme harassment and making numerous fraudulent statements to authorities, as part of their scam to gain guardianship control over Kasem.

    Kasem was “pronounced” dead on June 15th, 2014 at St. Anthony Hospital in Gig Harbor, Washington. According to Jean Kasem’s new suit, Kerri picked up her husband at their host family home on June 1st and forcefully took him against his will to St. Anthony Hospital, even though there was a hospital one block away and instead of a Doctor making a house call. Kasem was accompanied to the hospital by his personal physician, Dr. Donald Sharman, but was examined at St. Anthony by Dr. Joseph Regimbal, who reportedly cleared Kasem and praised the care being administered to him at home.

    The suit claims that Kerri Kasem then kept her husband at St. Anthony for an “unauthorized overnight observation.” On June 2nd, an attending physician at St. Anthony, Dr. Ramon Basa, reportedly told Jean and Dr. Sharman that Casey could go home, while a judge also ruled that there was no compelling reason to keep Kasem in the hospital. But when Jean arrived to pick up Kasem, Dr. Basa had changed his mind and Kasem was kept entrapped in St. Anthony.

    By June 6th, Jean Kasem and her daughter Liberty were reportedly told that Kasem’s adult children had “already begun the process” of withdrawing and withholding Casey Kasem’s hydration, nutrition and all proactive medical care” against Jean’s will or any authorization by Washington state judge Jennifer Forbes. Per the suit, Jean and Liberty were only given five minutes to see Casey before his death, were then told to leave his room and finally escorted out of the hospital chapel.

    Jean Kasem’s new suit alleges that the Kasem adult children were able to gain guardianship over their father through a fraudulent media scam and a fraudulent Durable Power of Attorney document that Kasem purportedly signed in 2007 “at a UPS store on Hollywood Blvd., under duress and undue influence.” At the time, Kasem was allegedly without his attorney and on medication while recovering from a recent surgery.

    Kerri Kasem and her lawyer, Troy Martin, argue that Jean Kasem’s new suit is an attempt to stall a wrongful death lawsuit the Kasem adult children filed against Jean and Liberty in 2015.

    Full Article and Source:
    Jean Kasem files wrongful death and fraud suit in Washington, against Casey Kasem’s Adult Children

    See Also:
    Casey Kasem's Widow Sued for Wrongful Death

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    5:00 pm PST … 6:00 pm MST … 7:00 pm CST … 8:00 pm EST

    Danny and I will have Fletcher Long, host of the The Long Version on Village Connection Radio as our guest. We will be talking about the abuses in the judicial system and how it is used against us. Guardianship? Conservatorship? Legal abuse syndrome is a reality! With the coming attempts to give those trapped in the administrative tribunal system, the right to a jury trial, we need to stand up and speak out. In these tribunals, we have no rights, and an entire system has been put in place to deprive us of our natural rights and liberties while everything, including our identity is stolen from us. All to benefit the ward! Of course!

    The elderly, children and the disabled have all fallen victim to this human trafficking for profit. A system largely designed by the predators who use administrative codes and statutes to by-pass the your rights as guaranteed in the Constitution. Uh-oh! I said the "C" word!

    Quote from Fletcher:

    "Juries think to themselves that if they are unsure about whether a citizen has committed an offense it should resolve the dispute in favor of the government, after all, "...he had to have done something or he would not have been charged." That is directly contrary to what our founders intended for the system of government and justice desired for the nation they were forming. The proper analysis is, "...I am uncertain and can't rest easy depriving this citizen of his liberty based on the evidenced I have been shown by the only party required to show me anything, therefore I am required to acquit this person."

    LISTEN TO THE SHOW LIVE or listen to the archive later

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    Sondra Everhart
    A former state official, who was fired for allegedly unlawfully releasing records of boarding home conditions to a newspaper, has reached an out-of-court settlement with the administration of Gov. Susana Martinez. Terms of the deal weren’t immediately disclosed.

    Sondra Everhart, a former chief advocate for residents of nursing homes and assisted-living facilities, sued the Department of Aging and Long-Term Services after her dismissal in June 2016.

    A few months prior to her firing, Everhart had provided records of boarding home conditions to the Albuquerque Journal in response to a public-records request.

    The Journal later published a series of stories on substandard conditions of boarding homes in Las Vegas, N.M. The homes, which are largely unregulated, serve mentally ill patients released from the state psychiatric hospital in Las Vegas.

    Everhart’s lawsuit said she was legally authorized to provide the records and that the allegation she did so unlawfully was a pretext for the Department of Aging and Long-Term Services to finally carry out its plan to get rid of Everhart, who had served more than a decade as the state long-term care ombudsman.

    The lawsuit alleged that department managers targeted and harassed Everhart and illegally terminated her because of her advocacy on behalf of boarding home residents, her request that the agency do more to protect the elderly from financial exploitation, her attempts to combat Medicaid fraud by the department, and her proposal that the ombudsman office be separated from the Department of Aging and Long-Term Services.

    Everhart, in an interview Monday, said she was satisfied with the settlement but couldn’t disclose details for six months because of a confidentiality agreement.

    Generally, under state law, settlements made by the state Risk Management Division don’t become public record for six months after they are entered.

    Linda Hemphill, an attorney for Everhart, said she and co-counsel Diane Garrity were “extremely pleased” with the settlement. “Unfortunately, we are prohibited by statute from sharing the details at this time,” Hemphill said.

    A spokesman for the Department of Aging and Long-Term Services didn’t respond to a request for comment.

    Attorneys for the department and Everhart filed an agreement June 15 in state District Court in Santa Fe to have Everhart’s case dismissed.

    Employees in the ombudsman office make regular visits to long-term care facilities to investigate complaints, help resolve resident concerns and ensure quality care.

    The U.S. Older Americans Act outlaws “willful interference” in the duties of long-term care ombudsmen, members of a nationwide network of federally funded advocates for residents of nursing homes and assisted-living facilities.

    In June 2015, Everhart complained to the federal government that the Department of Aging and Long-Term Services was interfering with her responsibilities, according to a document filed by Everhart’s attorneys in the lawsuit.

    Shortly after she complained, the document says, the department sought outside legal advice on how to remove Everhart.

    An attorney advised the department in September 2015 that the removal would likely run afoul of federal law and be retaliatory toward Everhart, the document says.

    The Department of Aging and Long-Term Services has said the legal advice was sought because the agency was trying to determine whether it could make the ombudsman job exempt from the state’s merit-based civil service system. Everhart was a classified employee, earning about $81,000 a year.

    In agencies under the control of the governor, like the Department of Aging and Long-Term Services, exempt employees serve at the will of the state’s chief executive.

    The department said Everhart was doing a “great job” until she broke the law by releasing the boarding home records to the Journal.

    All ombudsman records pertaining to clients, patients and residents are confidential and don’t have to be disclosed under the Inspection of Public Records Act. However, state regulations require that the ombudsman make a reasonable effort to grant a records request when it is possible to do so without revealing client identifying information.

    Everhart redacted names of boarding home residents from the documents provided to the Journal, but the department has said the reports “imply the identities of complainants and residents, and include identifying information such as place of residence, and in some instances, age and circumstances of boarding.”

    Full Article & Source:
    State, former elder care advocate reach settlement

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    The Indiana Supreme Court is receiving another award from the American Bar Association to help expand its adult guardianship reform efforts and start a pilot project in Wayne County.

    This is a continuation of an initiative that started about two years ago. In 2015, the Indiana Adult Guardianship State Task Force became a Working Interdisciplinary Networks of Guardianship Stakeholders (WINGS) after a grant of up to $7,000.

    In the recent round of funding just announced, a total of eight states are being awarded WINGS grants and technical assistance for their courts. The awards, which are given by the ABA Commission on Law and Aging, will go to support multidisciplinary efforts that advance guardianship reform, address elder abuse and promote less restrictive decision-making options.

    Indiana is one of three states with existing WINGS programs who will be getting $30,000 each as a “Focus WINGS” grant to enhance and expand its stakeholder group. The Indiana Supreme Court intends to use the funds to create a judicial reform project in Wayne County with a focus on the use of a least restrictive alternative to adult guardianships.

     “State WINGS have real potential to spark the kinds of lasting changes needed in guardianship and to address abuse as well as to jumpstart use of less restrictive options that give people more choice and self-determination in their lives,” said Patricia Banks, a Cook County, Illinois judge and chair of the ABA Commission on Law and Aging.

    Full Article & Source:
    Indiana Supreme Court gets additional funding for WINGS efforts

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    PROVIDENCE — The General Assembly passed legislation introduced by Rep. Brian Patrick Kennedy (D-Dist. 38, Hopkinton, Westerly) and Sen. Frank S. Lombardi (D-Dist. 26, Cranston) Wednesday that would secure the rights of adults who are under a limited guardianship on June 29.

    The bill would provide those under limited guardianship, guardianship and conservatorship with necessary rights designed to protect them from mental, physical and financial abuse by their guardians and conservators.

    “Adults who are the wards of limited guardians sometimes have no recourse when they become the victims of abuse, whether that abuse be physical, emotional or financial,” Kennedy said. “This legislation spells out the rights of those wards and prohibits guardians from treading on those rights.”

    Catherine Falk, the daughter of the late Peter Falk, best known for portraying Detective Columbo on television, is a national activist for guardianship reform and elder abuse awareness. She appeared before the House Judiciary Committee to testify on behalf of the legislation.

    “It has become a common problem,” Lombardi said. “Some adult guardians will isolate those they’re supposed to protect in order to retaliate against families who complain. This legislation would protect adults who may be unable to express their preferences due to physical or mental condition. In that case, consent would be presumed based upon the protected person’s proven relationship history with the person seeking visitation.”

    The second part of the legislation stipulates that an emergency hearing should be conducted if the protected person’s health is in significant decline or death may be imminent. In these circumstances, supervised visitation would be put in place until the hearing and subsequent court ruling is complete.”

    — Legislative Press and Public Information Bureau

    Full Article & Source:
    General Assembly passes Kennedy bill protecting adults under a guardianship

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