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

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    Peter Grotte-Higley
    Peter Grotte-Higley was 3 years old in 1939 and living in what was then Czechoslovakia when the Nazis sent his Jewish father to Sachsenhausen concentration camp.

    As World War II came to a close, the invading Russian army forced 10-year-old Peter and his mother into a “collection” camp, where he recalls hearing people being beaten at night.

    Grotte-Higley survived to tell the story of his eventual freedom, his success in the British advertising world and his retirement at age 58 with a healthy savings account and pension.

    But at the age of 81, Grotte-Higley is trapped again – this time placed by a private guardianship company in a boarding house where he gets three meals a day and shares a room with another man. He isn’t free to come and go, as he wishes. And he wants out.

    “It isn’t a very clean place. My health is getting worse. The food is not adequate for somebody that’s got bad kidneys. I’m not getting the care I need,” he told two Journal reporters.

    Over the course of 70-plus years, Grotte-Higley has gone from being a prisoner in a Russian “collection” camp to being a “protected person under the law” in New Mexico. He says he has no access to any money and no way to find out his status as a court-assigned ward of Ayudando Guardians Inc., which last month was indicted along with its two top principals for alleged embezzlement of client funds.

    The home where he has been placed isn’t licensed or inspected by the state. A manager could not be reached for comment.

    When two Journal reporters on Tuesday attempted to take Grotte-Higley to Ayudando’s offices in Albuquerque at his request, a caretaker at the home barred him from leaving. A reporter who went inside to help Grotte-Higley gather up his documents and photos then was asked to leave the premises.

    “Call the police,” an indignant Grotte-Higley told the reporter. “I am not a prisoner here.”

    But under the state’s guardianship system, those like Grotte-Higley typically have no freedom to come and go, or to have visitors of their choosing. Their life decisions are dictated by a guardian or conservator appointed by a judge. They are at the mercy of the courts to find out where their life savings went. If they ever find out.

    Without children or close family, Grotte-Higley on Jan. 28, 2016, was deemed mentally incapacitated in Bernalillo County District Court. Unable to handle his living and financial affairs, he was suffering from a number of medical issues. Six months earlier, his wife of 17 years, Nancy, died in her sleep.

    An employee of the Jewish Care Program of Albuquerque is listed as the petitioner who asked the court to approve a guardianship/conservatorship for Grotte-Higley, who still tries to attend synagogue on Saturdays at Congregation Albert if he can find a ride or get a cab.

    Wants accounting

    The circumstances of his guardianship are unclear because state law requires so much confidentiality, ostensibly to protect the incapacitated person’s privacy.

    A court docket sheet, the only public record available, shows state District Judge Denise Barela-Shepherd of Albuquerque appointed Ayudando as Grotte-Higley’s guardian and conservator in February 2016. Why he needed a guardianship/conservatorship isn’t specified – although he had been suffering from health problems and recalls signing papers agreeing to the guardianship.

    The medical reports that gave the rationale for him being deemed mentally incapacitated aren’t public. The docket sheet says four annual account/reports were filed between August 2016 and April 28 of this year.

    The reports, also confidential, are required by state law to inform the judge about the incapacitated person’s well-being and finances and whether a guardianship/conservatorship is still needed.

    Grotte-Higley recalled receiving a conservator report “just one time” that didn’t detail his finances.

    He recalled the judge in the case ordering Ayudando “to give a detailed report on my spending (and income) but they never did.”

    Judges in New Mexico are bound by a judicial code of ethics to refrain from discussing pending cases in their courts.

    Ayudando troubles

    Guardianships and conservatorships, whether via a family member or professional firm, are supposed to be a last resort for people who can’t manage their affairs, many of whom have dementia or Alzheimer’s.

    New Mexico’s system is under review by a special state Supreme Court task force set to propose reforms and ways courts can maintain better oversight of clients they place under guardianships.

    The federal indictment of the 11-year-nonprofit Ayudando Guardians shocked many in the guardianship and legal community because Ayudando specialized in caring for the elderly and mentally or physically incapacitated. A federal indictment unsealed July 19 alleges the firm’s two principals and their families used client funds, including their monthly benefit payments, to support a lavish personal lifestyle.

    Company credit cards were used to purchase up to $4 million in goods and services over the past three years that didn’t appear related to client needs, federal documents allege.

    One federal agent in a search warrant affidavit described Ayudando as a company “permeated by crime.” Grotte-Higley said he knew nothing about what he called the Ayudando “scandal” until alerted by the Journal.

    ‘Typical Bohunk’

    Grotte-Higley agreed to be interviewed by the Journal reporters last Saturday at a Northeast Heights restaurant. In recent months, his health had recovered to where he went to social events, including the monthly meeting of Albuquerque Recorder Society, a musical club that he had attended several years earlier but stopped.

    He has relied on taxis to get to and from the meetings, but recently made the acquaintance of Journal reporter Olivier Uyttebrouck, who also plays the recorder.

    In the past, Grotte-Higley has been allowed to leave the boarding house if accompanied by a “responsible person” or if transported by taxi, he said.

    During the near three-hour interview with Uyttebrouck and reporter Colleen Heild on Saturday, Grotte-Higley recounted his life, promising to be as “objective as I can.” He maintained a sense of humor throughout, reminding the reporters he was born in what was then Bohemia. “I’m a typical Bohunk,” he added.

    Grotte-Higley said he agreed to be placed in a guardianship at a time when he was more severely ill than he is today. Before Ayudando was appointed, Grotte-Higley had a quadruple bypass, high blood pressure and at least one stroke, he said. He also recalled a series of falls.

    Grotte-Higley did not know the U.S. Marshals Service had a court order to oversee Ayudando’s operations until a reporter told him. He wondered why he hadn’t seen an Ayudando representative in weeks. But he wanted to call the telephone number set up by federal authorities for clients and their families to call if they had questions.

    He got a recorded message asking him to leave his contact information.

    “How the heck do I get out of that place?” a frustrated Grotte-Higley said of his living arrangement, pounding his fists on the table.

    Holocaust survivor program

    Grotte-Higley had already been involved with the Jewish Federation of New Mexico.

    Grotte-Higley said a social worker with the Jewish Care Program of the Federation has been trying to help him move to new lodging. She didn’t return a phone call seeking comment on Wednesday.

    Grotte-Higley on Tuesday planned to visit the Ayudando office on Central Avenue SE to speak with the U.S. Marshals Service about his case.

    But a woman who identified herself as Deborah Brem, a manager for Malama Enterprises that manages the boarding house on Tennessee NE where he lives, told Journal reporter Uyttebrouck that he could not take Grotte-Higley to Ayudando’s office.

    “I can’t let this happen,” Brem said. “There is nobody that he can speak with right now.” Grotte-Higley would need permission from Ayudando Guardians to leave the property, she said. “At this point, Ayudando is still in place.”

    The reporter told Brem that Ayudando Guardians and its two principals are under federal indictment for looting client accounts and money laundering, and that Grotte-Higley wants to speak with someone about the consequences of the indictment for his finances and well-being.

    “I’m very well aware of the situation there,” Brem responded.

    When reporters called Grotte-Higley later Tuesday on his cellphone, he said he could not talk freely because his caretaker was there with him. The Journal tried three times to reach Grotte-Higley at the same number on Wednesday, but he didn’t answer. The calls went straight to a voice mail – that had not yet been set up.

    Struggle for dignity and self-respect

    Through the help of the Red Cross and the Czech “underground,” as he called it, Peter Grotte-Higley and his mother escaped from the Russian collection camp. They had to cross the Ore Mountains, winter was approaching and “we were still wearing summer clothes.”

    “It was an awful Nazi nest,” he recalled of the war years.

    But when the Russians arrived, “we lost everything. They were worse than the Nazis. You know they were beating people during the night, waterboarding them I think. I saw them march up a group of people and the next thing we heard was gunshots.”

    Grotte-Higley reunited with his father in England. But he doesn’t know whatever happened to his mother, who stayed in Czechoslovakia to help her parents after their escape from the camp.

    Grotte-Higley says he managed to start a business in England that extended “all over” Europe. When he retired at the age of 58, he said he had a savings of well over $250,000 in U.S. dollars.

    His retirement in America brought him to the Albuquerque area, where the woman who became his second wife lived.

    He said he has two monthly pensions, including one from the United Kingdom that provides about $1,400 a month, and a second pension from a German insurance company for which he once worked.

    Over the past year Grotte-Higley relied on a series of Ayudando Guardian representatives for transportation, trips to the doctor and for a $100-a-month debit card for his incidental expenses.

    But at least twice when he tried to use the card to pay for purchases, he was told there were no funds on the card.

    “I was at Walmart,” he recalled. “It’s highly embarrassing. How can they embarrass me like that?”

    Grotte-Higley often expresses frustration about his lack of independence, saying he is unable to leave the house to walk for exercise. A sociable man, he complains that he has little social stimulation in the home.

    He also does not know what became of money he had saved or the two pension payments he once received.

    “The judge told them (Ayudando) to give a detailed report on my spending and finances,” he told the Journal. “They never did.” Or at least, Grotte-Higley said, he never saw it.

    “Look, I have no money whatsoever,” he said. “I need a little bit of money to maintain my self-respect.”

    Full Article & Source:
    Holocaust-era survivor chafes under Ayudando guardianship

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    If you are like most people, when you hear the words “estate planning,” you probably think of writing a will, to explain who will get what you own when you die. The problem is, a will has little or nothing to do with you. It’s all about planning for someone else. In reality, estate planning is about much more than writing a will; it’s also about taking care of you while you are alive, should you become incapacitated and unable to make your own decisions.

    Credit: Shutterstock

    What follows is a rundown of the key disability documents to complete as part of your estate planning, even before writing a will. Although their names vary from state-to-state, the following are essential “me first” documents.


    An Advanced Health Care Directive, sometimes called a Medical Power of Attorney  This document lets you choose who will make decisions about your health care if you become too ill or injured to make them yourself. This person is referred to as your health care agent.

    A Living Will A living will spells out the kinds of medical care and treatment you do and don’t want to receive if you are close to death and there is no hope of your recovery. Your health care agent will have the power to make sure your wishes are complied with. In some states, a living will is part of an Advanced Health Care Directive; in others, they are two separate documents.

    A living will also spares your family members from having to second guess your desires and can help avoid emotionally difficult fights among your loved ones over what to do (or not do). Worst case scenario: Without a living will (and a Medical Power of Attorney), decisions about your end-of-life care could end up in the hands of a judge who knows nothing about you, and your loved ones could be completely shut out of the judge’s deliberations.

    A Durable Power of Attorney If you become incapacitated, your bills still must be paid, your investments managed and so on. A Durable Power of Attorney helps ensure that during your incapacitation there will be someone to manage your finances. This individual, your agent, will be able to write checks, deposit and withdraw money from your accounts on your behalf and speak with your financial advisers, among other things. Be sure to pick as your financial agent someone you trust and who will act in your best financial interest.

    Don’t confuse a Durable Power of Attorney with a Power of Attorney. The latter ceases to be legally valid as soon as you become incapacitated. You need a Durable Power of Attorney

    A caveat: Despite the importance of a Durable Power of Attorney, many financial institutions and real estate title companies don’t like them. They worry the document may have been revoked by its creator and replaced with a different one and that the individual claiming to be your financial agent may be trying to steal money from you. So it may be difficult for your financial agent to use your Durable Power of Attorney.

    The more recent the power of attorney, the more likely it will be honored, but this varies from state-to-state. Also, financial institutions and title companies have their own criteria for when they will accept a Power of Attorney document.

    Before you prepare yours, find out the criteria of your financial institutions and real estate title companies. Also, check with the companies that hold your retirement accounts to see if they have their own Power of Attorney forms; aif they do, use theirs.

    A Revocable Living Trust To avoid problems with Powers of Attorney, some people set up a revocable living trust, which essentially acts like a super power of attorney. Financial institutions are legally obligated to comply with their terms. Generally,a revocable living trust is most appropriate for estates worth more than $1 million.

    When you set up a revocable living trust, you transfer your assets to the trust and designate yourself as trustee. This way, you can continue to manage and benefit from those assets as you did before they were in the trust. If you can no longer act as the trustee because you become incapacitated, the individual you designated as your successor trustee manages the trust. Most people choose their spouse or partner, a close relative or a trusted friend.

    A living trust doesn’t eliminate the need for a Durable Power of Attorney, however. You’ll still need that document to identify the person you want to manage your retirement accounts, like your 401(k) and your IRAs, because these kinds of accounts cannot be transferred into a living trust.

    A HIPAA Release HIPAA is the acronym for the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Among other things, this law prohibits your doctors from discussing your medical condition and treatment with anyone — including family members and close friends — other than those individuals you specifically list on your HIPAA form. Only those people will have full access to your medical team.

    An Organ Donation AuthorizationYou may want to donate your organs when you die so someone can benefit from them. If so, make your wishes known on your driver’s license or register with an organ bank or with your hospital. Be sure to make your family and your health care agent aware of your wishes.

    Full Article & Source:
    The Biggest Estate Planning Mistake People Make

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    Law360, Philadelphia (August 15, 2017, 4:59 PM EDT) -- For the first time since a sweeping new set of judicial ethics rules went into effect three years ago, the Pennsylvania Court of Judicial Discipline is being urged by an ethics watchdog to find an ex-Northampton County judge liable for retaliating against staffers who complained about his purportedly abusive conduct.

    The state’s Judicial Conduct Board argued in a filing on Friday that it had presented ample evidence of ex-Magisterial District Judge David Tidd’s alleged retaliatory conduct during a formal ethics trial in May, including testimony that he’d specifically requested to have two staffers transferred after coming to suspect that they’d filed a complaint against him.

    “The charge of retaliation by a judge is an issue of first impression before this court,” the board said. “The board proved by clear and convincing evidence that Judge Tidd knew that retaliatory conduct was prohibited, yet he directly retaliated against his court clerks because of their cooperation with the board’s investigation.”

    Tidd, who served on the bench for six years before his resignation in July 2016, was slapped with a string of ethics charges last August covering a host of alleged violations, including his refusal to issue warrants against a friend and legal colleague over his unpaid parking citations, and his failure to recuse himself in cases where he had a potential conflict. The complaint also accused him of failing to recuse himself from a case involving a citation that the landlord of his district court building received after a May 2013 traffic accident.

    As Tidd faced investigation, the complaint said that he badgered and berated his court staff about any involvement they may have had in tipping off the JCB to his conduct. This, the board has argued, violates a provision of the state’s Code of Judicial Conduct that became effective in July 2014 barring retaliation “directly or indirectly against a person known or suspected to have assisted or cooperated with an investigation of a judge or a lawyer.”

    A trial in the case was held over the course of several days in January, May and June, according to court records.

    In proposed finding of fact and conclusions of law filed with the CJD on Friday, the board pointed to an email that Tidd sent to a deputy court administrator in Northampton County requesting the “immediate removal” of two staffers who he said he’d learned had taken part in filing a complaint against him.

    Tidd later told a third staffer that he “couldn’t even look at” one of the transferred employees without feeling sick.

    After learning that the third staffer had also participated in the board’s investigation, the filing on Friday said, Tidd also requested her transfer.

    “This makes contact with her intolerable,” Tidd wrote in an email to the deputy court administrator cited by the board in its filing.

    Tidd, meanwhile, has pushed to have the entire case thrown out on grounds that it was improperly based on allegedly selectively edited audio and video recordings he said were submitted to the board to highlight his allegedly improper behavior.

    “This selective copying of the videos was very unfair since Mr. Tidd was prevented from preserving all the tapes which would have demonstrated a very fair jurist,” the ex-judge argued in his own proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law last month.

    An attorney for Tidd did not immediately return a message seeking comment on Tuesday.

    Tidd is represented by Samuel Stretton.

    The board is represented by Chief Counsel Robert Graci and Deputy Counsel Elizabeth Flaherty.

    The case is In Re: David W. Tidd etc., case number 3 JD 2016, before the Pennsylvania Court of Judicial Discipline.

    Full Article & Source:
    Ethics Court Urged To Put Pa. Judge On Hook For Retaliation

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    Bradford D. Lund, a grandson of Walt Disney, on Friday failed in his bid in the Fourth District Court of Appeal to gain a reversal of a judgment denying a petition for an order to Wells Fargo, trustee of the family trust, to distribute to him his share of the res.

    Div. Three, in an opinion by Justice Raymond Ikola, said that even though the trust is administered in California, deference must be given the decision of an Arizona court that distribution to Lund be deferred until after resolution of a conservatorship proceeding. Lund is said to be mentally impaired.

    He is the son of the Disney’s adopted daughter, Sharon Disney, who died in 1993, and developer William Lund.

    Sharon Disney was one of two daughters of Walt and Lillian Disney. Under the terms of the trust, the res is to be distributed in equal shares to the grandchildren upon the death of whichever daughter survived the other.

    That event occurred in 2013 when Diane Disney Miller, a biological daughter, died at the age of 79.

    Any grandchild over the age of 30—which included Brad Lund—was to take his or her share outright. The trust was estimated in 2014 at $400 million.

    In seeking to circumvent the Arizona order, Brad Lund invoked Probate Code §17000(a), which provides:

    “The superior court having jurisdiction over the trust pursuant to this part has exclusive jurisdiction of proceedings concerning the internal affairs of trusts.”

    He also cited the a provision of the Arizona constitution that: Brad then cites article 6, section 14, of the Arizona Constitution which states, “The superior court shall have original jurisdiction of: 1. Cases and proceedings in which exclusive jurisdiction is not vested by law in another court.”

    —AP
    Walt Disney, who died in 1966, is seen in a photo with daughters Sharon and Diane.

    Exclusive jurisdiction, he argued, is in Orange County, California, where the trust is administered.

    Ikola responded:

    “While Brad’s argument has facial appeal, it relies on a misinterpretation of the term ‘jurisdiction’ as used in section 17000.”

    What it means, he said, is that probate departments have exclusive jurisdiction within a superior court over probate matters.

    “Accordingly, section 17000 was not intended to confer exclusive fundamental jurisdiction to any particular court, but, rather, was simply intended to streamline the process of adjudicating trusts by ensuring parties would not bounce back and forth between different courts depending on the type of relief sought,” Ikola wrote, adding:

    “Since section 17000 does not deprive Arizona of jurisdiction, principles of comity counsel in favor of avoiding an order contradicting the Arizona court’s order. Moreover, the Arizona court’s order was merely a temporary order. If Brad is found to be competent, the Arizona court may well dissolve the temporary order without making any further orders concerning the trust. In that respect, it would be premature for us to address the broader question of where any remaining issues concerning trust distributions ought to be decided.”

    The case is Lund v. Wells Fargo Bank, G052717.

    Bohm Wildish, James G. Bohm, Matthew Troncali, Klaus Heinze and Heather Cote were Lund’s attorneys on the appeal. Don Fisher and Erin K. Oyama of Palmieri, Tyler, Wiener, Wilhelm & Waldron acted for Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. Brian M. Daucher, Adrienne W. Lee and Abby H. Meyer of Sheppard Mullin represented the plaintiff’s twin sister, Michelle A. Lund, and two half-sisters, Kristen Lund Olson and Karne Lund Page.

    Sheppard Mullin’s clients, along with aunt, instituted the involuntary conservatorship proceedings in Arizona in 2009.

    Full Article & Source:
    Entertainment Mogul Walt Disney’s Grandson Denied Access to Family Trust Funds

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    A longtime spokesman for the state court system accidentally butt-dialed a Post reporter — yukking it up about how “I barely show up to work” while pocketing a $166,000-plus salary and boosting his taxpayer-funded pension.

    After speaking by cellphone with the reporter about a planned exposé on his cushy schedule, David Bookstaver butt-dialed back, and unwittingly left a four-minute voicemail while chatting with at least two other people.

    On the voicemail, Bookstaver admitted lying to The Post about how he spent his weekdays and confirmed the accounts of court-system sources who said he’s been working as few as two days a week.

    “I spoke to [the reporter] on the record for awhile. I said, ‘I’m in a much less visible position; that doesn’t mean I’m not doing anything,’ ” Bookstaver said.

    “But, frankly, look, the bottom line: the story’s true. I’m not doing anything. I barely show up to work and I’ve been caught.”

    The remark promoted laughter, after which Bookstaver explained that he didn’t need to show up “because they took away all my responsibilities and left my pay.”

    At one point, he lamented over having bragged about his ability to play hooky. “They left me alone and look, I have a big mouth. I told people I’m not doing much. I do take a lot of time off,” he said.
    “I kind of asked for it. You know, if you have a big mouth, you know it catches up with you.”

    Bookstaver, who’s planning to retire Oct. 1, also raised the possibility he could get fired “because of a story in The Post,” but said it “would probably affect my pension check by $6 a month.”

    “Look, the bottom line is, I’ll suffer through a terribly embarrassing story and then go get my f–king pension and retire,” he said.

    Full Article & Source:
    NYC court worker calls reporter, admits he 'barely shows up' for $166K job

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    NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The Davidson County District Attorney has been asked to review a recent Metro audit into the city-owned home for seniors.

    The audit found there was no documentation for more than a million dollars in spending at the Bordeaux home and that the former managers had raided the residents' Trust Funds and spent more than $125,000 of their personal money.

    Metro councilman Jim Shulman called for the audit a year ago after NewsChannel 5 Investigates exposed financial problems at Autumn Hills last year. The audit found Autumn Hills still owes nearly a quarter of a million dollars to creditors.

    Earlier this year, after the problems came to light, the city cuts ties with the management company that it had hired to run Autumn Hills.

    A new interim company was brought in to run the place which is now using its former name, the Knowles Home.

    Full Article & Source:
    DA To Review Metro Audit Of Autumn Hills

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    It’s a track record that can’t be tolerated.

    Data compiled from 2016 inspections of Washington’s four state-run residential habilitation centers (RHCs)--including Rainier School in Buckley--detail shocking accounts of abuse and neglect toward developmentally disabled residents.

    The 2016 reports read like documents from the 19th century when people with Down syndrome, autism, or other disabilities were isolated in asylums and often neglected.

    The state’s own surveyors reported 257 allegations of injuries with origins unknown, 25 accident allegations, and 16 reports on the misuse of seclusion and restraints both physical and chemical.

    In November of 2016, a staff member at the Rainier School sexually assaulted a female resident. An investigation revealed later that several other residents had allegedly been raped by the same staff member. The accused awaits trial in the Pierce County jail.

    Employees at Rainier School said training on how to identify sexual trauma in nonverbal adults was never administered.

    At that same institution, in the span of less than two years, two residents choked to death, and a man nearly drowned during a lake trip. A staff member left him alone on a dock strapped into his wheelchair. When he fell into the water, he was unable to free himself.

    The report also detailed how staff at the Lakeland Village facility near Spokane withheld food to “manage” behavior. The plan called for staff to “only provide diet supplements” if they saw the resident come out of his room.

    Nurses at other facilities worked with expired licenses.

    In 2015 and 2016, federal experts found so many violations, ones that included leaving residents strapped to toilets or exploiting them financially, they froze federal funding for new admissions. The Developmental Disabilities Administration, which oversees operations, is given 11 months to get back into compliance.

    Washington is one of only 13 states still operating large institutions for people with developmental disabilities. Oversight authority lies with the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services and The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

    Surveys are conducted every 15 months; when an infraction occurs, the facility in question responds with a “Plan of Correction,” an inadequate method of accountability considering the ongoing problems with safety and substandard therapeutic conditions.

    Don Clintsman, a top DSHS official charged with overseeing the state RHCs, said corrections have been implemented. He also mentioned the facilities are crumbling. “Some of the buildings are 50, 60 and 70 years old.” He’d like to see real investment coming from the state Legislature.

    Disability Rights Washington is entreating the public for help, calling for a panel, one that includes both state officials and concerned citizens.

    Reisha Abolofia, author of No Excuses: shining a light on abuse and neglect of people with developmental disabilities in Washington institutions, says lawmakers and public officials are aware of the report’s findings. To her knowledge, no special investigations have been assigned.

    “People with disabilities are viewed as less than human,” says Abolofia. It’s the only answer she can give for why state officials have not done more.

    Sue Elliott, executive director of the Arc of Washington says, “Washington ranks 42nd in the nation for how we treat our DD (developmentally disabled) residents.”

    This kind of treatment wasn’t acceptable in the 19th century, and it isn’t acceptable now.

    But until Governor Inslee and the state Legislature take concerted action, more than 800 of our most vulnerable citizens remain at risk.

    Full Article & Source:
    Conditions at state institutions unacceptable

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  • 08/18/17--22:00: Casey tackles aging issues
  • WILKES-BARRE — Staffers who work with U.S. Sen. Bob Casey on the Senate aging committee have a joke about the scope of their work.

    “As soon as you’re born,” he said, “you’re aging.”

    Advocating for that all-encompassing constituency includes an obligation to protect programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, said Casey, the committee’s ranking Democrat, on Monday at a conference on aging at Wilkes University.

    The next fight on that front will come with the federal government’s 2018 budget, the Scranton resident said. The plan from the U.S. House of Representatives includes cuts to Medicare over the next 10 years, as well as cuts to discretionary spending that Casey said could eventually affect other programs seniors care about.

    For example, a cut in discretionary funding could affect how much money is available for Community Development Block Grants, a Department of Housing and Urban Development fund that supports a variety of local programs. With the federal government distributing less funding, states and local organizations have less money for initiatives like Meals on Wheels or heating assistance programs.

    “We have a lot of fights ahead of us. We have to fight against those kinds of cuts,” Casey said.

    Seniors are a major part of Casey’s constituency, and they account for a major part of federal spending. The 2010 budget allocated 20.4 percent of federal spending for Social Security and 13.1 percent of federal spending for Medicare, according to FactCheck.org.

    Among the issues addressed at the conference was the threat of seniors being targeted by scams intended to rob them of their savings.

    Scammers might pretend to be IRS agents claiming they’re owed money and threatening arrest, or lottery officials promising a bogus windfall.

    The best course of action if someone threatens punishment for nonpayment is to hang up, said Tim Camus, an inspector with the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.

    The IRS won’t contact anyone first by telephone, and it also won’t threaten arrest or a lawsuit, he said.

    Pennsylvania Secretary of Aging Teresa Osborne spoke about drug abuse. Even though they’re not often the face of the opioid crisis, older Americans are not immune from the problems caused by the drugs, which have led to an increase in overdose deaths in recent years.

    “We really have to elbow our way into the discussion about the opioid crisis,” she said.

    Senior citizens can be addicted themselves or face having to care for a family member who is addicted or left vulnerable because of someone else’s addiction, Osborne said.

    Conference panelists also addressed funding of programs that affect seniors.

    Mary Roselle, executive director of the Area Agency on Aging for Luzerne and Wyoming Counties; Tim Camus, a deputy inspector general for the U.S. Treasury Department; and Gail Roddie-Hamlin, president and CEO of the Greater Pennsylvania Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, all had a simple answer when asked what they wanted Casey to know: They could use more funding for their missions.

    That’s the central challenge of government, Casey said, citing research into Alzheimer’s disease as an example.

    Because of investments in research, Pennsylvania has the potential to be the place where there’s a major breakthrough on a cure for Alzheimer’s, he said.

    “But we can’t continue that research on Alzheimer’s or anything else unless we continue to pound the table” for funding, he said.

    Full Article & Source:
    Casey tackles aging issues

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  • 08/18/17--23:00: Office of Adult Guardianship
  • There is currently an act before the Massachusetts Legislature to establish the Office of Adult Guardianship and Decisional Support Services. (S.1177/H3027). The purpose of the bill is to provide guardianship services to “unbefriended” people who are unable to manage their affairs.

    These people are the most vulnerable in society. They have no one to complain if they are subjected to abuse by a guardian. They are the perfect victims. Any system for providing guardianship services to the “unbefriended” has to have iron clad protections against abuse.

    On the contrary, this bill gives immunity to guardians. Guardians are already given immunity by judges of the Probate Court. Regardless of the intent of this immunity the result has been to create a system of legalized crime where guardians commit crimes with impunity. Other health care providers (doctors, nursing homes, etc. ) have to carry liability insurance. Conservators have to be bonded. Guardians should have liability insurance, not immunity.

    Democracy was invented to prevent abuse of authority by government. The best way to stop abuse of guardianship is to use principles of democracy such as separation of powers (no one has sole control), checks and balances, accountability (no immunity), avoiding conflict of interest by putting authority in the hands of disinterested parties, etc.

    The current bill has none of these protections of democracy. The Governor’s Advisory Council has no authority. A careful reading of the bill shows that the Executive Director of the Office of the Adult Guardianship and Decisional Support Services is the only entity given any authority. The Office of Adult Guardianship has no authority as an entity. All its duties and powers are executed by the Executive Director.

    I have attempted to rewrite the bill in a way that makes maximum use of the principles of democracy to prevent abuse of power.

    Massachusetts Legislature Poised to Give Immunity to “Guardians”

    Full Article & Source:
    Office of Adult Guardianship

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    Leneta Anderson,
    For more than a year, 77-year-old Leneta Anderson has taken both the bus and train from her home in Silver Terrace to visit her husband at a hospital in the Mission District.

    Richard Anderson, 82, was hooked up to a breathing tube at St. Luke’s hospital in March 2016 after a medical procedure went wrong and landed him in the emergency room, nearing death.

    Leneta Anderson spends hours at the hospital keeping her husband company, often staying until Family Feud comes on the television in the evening. She plays her husband music from the 1950s. She spoon feeds him and rubs his back.

    But Lenata Anderson fears their time together could be cut short in October, when Sutter Health’s California Pacific Medical Center is slated to close the skilled nursing facility and subacute unit at St. Luke’s, relocating the patients outside of The City.

    The skilled nursing facility is the last in San Francisco to provide long-term subacute care for patients with tracheostomies who are on ventilators and use feeding tubes. The patients are just a step away from being in intensive care units.

    Meanwhile, city health officials say there are a limited number of subacute units in the Bay Area and all of them are running at or near capacity. Richard Anderson could be moved as far away as Los Angeles.

    “It will, I would say, kill my husband if they take him out of San Francisco and I can’t get to him,” Leneta said. “And I’m not just talking about Walnut Creek or San Mateo, they’re talking about Los Angeles … I would have to fly there.”

    On Tuesday, the Health Commission delayed voting on a resolution on whether the planned closure of the skilled nursing facility at St. Luke’s will have a detrimental impact on health care services San Francisco.

    San Francisco is projecting a shortage of skilled nursing facility beds as the population ages and hospitals in The City and across the nation continue to remove the beds, resulting in what some are calling a health crisis.

    San Francisco has lost 30 percent of the beds since 2003, according to according to city health officials.

    The Health Commission does not have the authority to overturn the decision but can put pressure on hospitals that are cutting health services under 1988’s Proposition Q, which requires private hospitals to give public notice.

    Sutter Health notified city officials in June that it would remove all 79 skilled nursing beds, including 40 for patients that need subacute care. The company is planning to open two hospitals in San Francisco, but neither will include skilled nursing beds under a development agreement with city officials from 2013.

    CPMC CEO Dr. Warren Browner told the Health Commission that the company has recognized since 2011 the need for skilled nursing beds in San Francisco.

    “We are disappointed that that agreement was changed in the process of the negotiations,” Browner said. “There’s a lot of blame to go around. We accept some. I think The City should accept some.”

    Richard Anderson is one of two dozen patients remaining on the subacute floor.

    His daughter, Laurie Anderson, has had trouble finding subacute care for him. Laurie Anderson said she has been turned away from six nursing homes, including one as far away as San Jose.

    “If they move him to Los Angeles or something like that, what does that mean,” she said. “I can’t even think about that.”

    “It would just kill her and him,” she said of her parents.

    Browner said the hospital will provide treatment for the patients until they are moved to another facility.

    “We will of course work with any of our patients who remain at St. Luke’s after Oct. 31 and their families to find the very best fit,” Browner said.

    Raquel Rivera, whose sister is mentally disabled and a patient in the subacute unit, disputed whether the hospital is working with families to relocate patients as it claims.

    “You need to have a dead heart to move these patients away from their families,” Rivera said Tuesday at a news conference outside City Hall.

    CPMC is building two new hospitals in San Francisco, with a Mission Bernal Campus replacing St. Luke’s in June 2018 and another on Van Ness Avenue set to open in early 2019.

    At the Health Commission, Vice President David Pating asked Browner to consider delaying the closure beyond October.

    “It concerns me that we don’t have a plan in The City about how to replace the beds,” Pating said. “We’re a sinking ship without a lifeboat.”

    Browner said that CPMC has “to prepare for the transition to new facilities.”

    “We can’t keep pushing everything back and do everything at the last minute,” Browner said. “It would not be a responsible solution.”

    The Health Commission resolution on whether the closure will have a detrimental impact on San Francisco will be heard again Sept. 5.

    Full Article & Source:
    Families fear death for patients told to ship out from SF hospital

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    The state judicial discipline agency issued a “severe public censure” against San Diego Superior Court Judge Gary Kreep on Thursday, stopping just short of removing him from the bench.

    The punishment is the second most-serious that the Commission on Judicial Performance can assess against a judge. Kreep came close to losing his seat on the bench, with four of the 10 commissioners — including all three active judges who are part of the commission — voting for removal.

    The commission leveled 29 charges of misconduct against Kreep, most of which related to his judicial campaign and his first year on the bench in the downtown San Diego Superior Court. Lawyers for the commission had argued he should be removed from office because the misconduct was so serious.

    Despite the large number of violations the commissioners did not kick him off the bench, because it said in its decision that most of the violations occurred during his 2012 campaign for the seat and in his first year or so as a judge.

    Full Article and Source:
    Judicial Watchdog Issues 'Severe Public Censure' Against Judge Kreep, Who Remains on Bench

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    Journalist and author, Michael Volpe says,
    Broadcast was hacked twenty minutes in. Someone must not like what I’m saying about this case.


    ***********************************

    Listen Here: TS Radio:Mike Volpe & Sandra Grazzini..Minnesota, Dakota County battle continues

    Hosted by Marti Oakley:
    "Join us this evening as Mike Volpe and Sandra Grazzini talk about the latest developments in what has to be THE divorce case of the century here in Minnesota. Dakota County, notoriously infamous for its blatant corruption continues its aggression against the defendant. Tune in for the latest in this extremely strange case. Just goes to show you….money talks and can buy you all sorts of things in the right places!"

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    Cindy L. Dicus
    Cindy L. Dicus didn’t waste time.

    At about 9:30 a.m. April 25, she attended a hearing before Judge James Isaacson where she was removed as a guardian of the estate of one of her relatives. The hearing ended about 10 a.m.
    Prosecutors said at 10:05 a.m. Dicus withdrew $995 from the relative’s account, leaving a balance of $5.36.

    Dicus, 62, of Cornell is charged in Chippewa County Court with felony theft on April 5 and seven counts of misdemeanor theft on dates ranging from April 7 to May 15. The felony charge is from the city of Chippewa Falls, and the misdemeanor charges are from Chippewa Falls, Cornell and the town of Lake Holcombe.

    Dicus is scheduled to appear before Judge Steven Gibbs at 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 22. She has signed a $1,000 signature bond.

    According to a criminal complaint: A Chippewa County social worker contacted the Cornell Police Department on July 1 over a reported fraud case.

    Police found Dicus had become guardian of a relative’s estate on Sept. 22, 2015 and was removed as guardian for not finishing required federal paperwork. Because of that, her relative lost his Medicaid benefits, including his living expenses at a nursing home.

    Dicus was officially removed as guardian on April 25, 2017, and the county took over as the guardian for Dicus’ relative and the relatives’ bank records were turned over to the county.

    It was found the relative was issued a back payment from Social Security of $19,180 on April 3, 2017, and the check was made out to the payee, “Cindy Dicus for (the relative’s initials).” Dicus then opened an account for the relative at a financial institution in Chippewa Falls on April 5, where she deposited $10,180. “A transaction slip showed defendant Dicus had taken $8,000 in cash,” the complaint said.

    A bank account statement dated May 30 showed 69 transactions from the account, but none were for the care of Dicus’ relative. Among the transactions were $1,435 to Xcel Energy, $217 for Charter cable, $766 for Larson’s Auto in Cornell, $303 for the Holiday store in Cornell and $60 to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation to reinstate a driver’s license.

    A check dated May 3 for $1,009 from the U.S. Treasury was deposited into the account of Dicus’ relative about a week after Dicus was removed as the relative’s guardian. Several transactions were made using the funds. When the bank account was closed May 30, a total of $8.37 was left in the checking and savings accounts.

    The nursing home where the relative is staying reported on June 1 no financial transactions or money from the relative’s Social Security proceeds was turned over by Dicus for the relative’s care.

    Full Article & Source:
    Cornell woman charged with stealing from disabled relative

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    Residents of Vienna Nursing & Rehabilitation Center
    At least 30 residents at the Vienna Nursing and Rehabilitation Center got up early Thursday morning to prepare a lunch to serve to the 40 people involved with he Women Helping Women group at the Salvation Army.

    Residents at the facility gathered in the dining hall and eagerly chopped vegetables and meats for chef salads. Other residents prepared rolls and baked cookies to go with the meal.

    “I’m doing an important thing — people need to be fed,” 93-year-old Shirley Graese said as she stuck wedges of butter in the rolls.

    “They need good, healthy food. We have it here and they are getting ready to put it on the plate. It’s really a privilege and helpful and we like it. As long as we’re going to be here, we might as well be productive if we can do it.”

    Lillian Granger, 93, who also prepared rolls, said she has been helping people all her life, so this was nothing new.

    Gwen Showalter, 74, cut up chunks of turkey to go in the chef’s salads. She said she was glad that she was given this opportunity because she enjoys helping people.

    Jonathan Ibarra said in the past he has worked with the Salvation Army and it’s nice to help some of the people he met in the past.

    Shirley Klinker, 86, prepared the cookies for dessert. With six children, she describes herself as sort of a pro at baking cookies.

    “I baked a lot of cookies. Chocolate chip was their favorite and they would tolerate oatmeal,” she said.

    After the food was prepped and ready to go, seven residents were chosen to go serve the meal at the Salvation Army. Transportation was provided by the city’s Dial A Ride program.

    According to Jamie Vilinskas, Vienna’s marketing director, in an effort to give back to the community the center started the Serving Smiles program. Once a month the residents prepare and serve a meal to the Women Helping Women group at the Salvation Army.

    “We’ve been trying to find something where the residents can give back to the community and have a role and a responsibility,” Vilinskas said.

    She said they were inspired by a documentary about a similar program called Heart to Serve and decided to start their own program.

    “You might have tremors, you might not be able to use one arm, you might have dementia or something, but if your heart still wants to give back, you should still be able to have that opportunity to give back,” Vilinskas said.

    According to Vilinskas, many residents at Vienna have been caring for others and feeding people most of their lives. The program gives residents a chance to reconnect with their former identity of being a provider and caregiver, and really makes a difference in the lives of others.

    Families of Salvation Army benefit not only with the meals, but Vilinskas said it also provides them an opportunity to connect with seniors in the community and share genuine, intimate moments of bonding.

    Full Article & Source:
    Nursing home residents make meals for needy

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    The nightmare Peggy Marzolla and her family endured while she was under the care of a Brick nursing home has led to increased protections for residents of the state's nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

    The 93-year-old woman died in 2010, within months of being injured in the facility - injuries that included a broken eye socket, cheekbones and wrist, among other damages.

    The staff chalked it up to an accidental fall, but Marzolla's daughter wasn't having any of it. The flimsy excuse, and what she saw as a failure by the state to follow up, drove Maureen Persi to lobby for better protections for institutionalized seniors.

    "Peggy's Law," the bill whose name honors her mother, requires workers at state-regulated facilities that care for senior citizens to contact police promptly if they suspect any of their residents are experiencing abuse, exploitation or other criminal harm.

    Under current law, staff members are required only to report such cases to the state's Office of the Ombudsman for the Institutionalized Elderly, but not to the police.

    Gov. Chris Christie signed the new measure Monday. In addition to mandating police notification within 24 hours of an incident - or two hours if an injury is involved - it also requires the ombudsman's office to offer a round-the-clock hotline for complaints.

    At present, that hotline responds to calls in person only during business hours.
    Bringing law-enforcement officials into the picture from the beginning adds an extra element of safety in places where safety should be everyone's No. 1 priority.

    Placing a loved one in a facility is often one of the most heart-wrenching decision care-givers can make. Many have exhausted other options in the community, and turn to nursing homes as a last resort - invariably wracked with guilt as they sign the papers to admit Mom or Dad.

    Peggy's Law should offer them a measure of comfort.

    "When families put their loved ones in the care of a nursing home or other assisted-living facility, they expect that they'll be treated properly and with respect," says state Sen. Jim Holzapfel (R-Ocean).

    The lawmaker, who represents Brick, worked with Sen. Diane Allen (R-Burlington) as well as with bill sponsor Assemblywoman Sheila Oliver (D-Essex) for more than six years to bring the legislation to fruition.

    To be sure, the vast majority of the 380 nursing homes and 500-plus other long-term care facilities in the state employ caring and competent workers. Good, decent facilities abound.

    But when the unthinkable happens, when residents face abuse or worse, Peggy's Law exists to stand guard - to make sure, in Oliver's words, that this type of misbehavior does not go overlooked or swept under the carpet.

    Full Article & Source:
    Peggy's Law offers comfort for children of elderly parents | Editorial

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    BRENTWOOD — A Newfields resident and former Exeter lawyer has been indicted on five charges alleging he financially exploited a 71-year-old woman.

    Thomas U. Gage, 57, of Newfields, was indicted in Rockingham Superior Court last week on five counts of financial exploitation of an elderly, disabled or impaired adult, the state attorney general’s office announced Monday.

    The indictments allege that Gage, through the use of undue influence, acquired possession or control of five credit cards allegedly belonging to the woman. The total amount of the alleged exploitation is $87,165 all between January 2015 and January 2016.

    Gage is a former attorney who practiced in Exeter, the attorney general’s press release said. He was disbarred in 2016 for unrelated reasons.

    The maximum penalty for each indictment is 7½ to 15 years in state prison and/or a fine of $4,000.

    The case is being prosecuted by Brandon Garod, assistant attorney general in the office’s Elder Abuse and Exploitation Unit.

    Indictments indicate grand jury found enough evidence to bring the matter to trial.

    Full Article & Source:
    AG: Ex-Exeter lawyer financially exploited woman

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    A Supreme Court task force charged with recommending ways to reform the state’s guardianship/conservatorship system questioned Friday what can be learned from the pending federal embezzlement prosecution of Ayudando Guardians Inc. and its two principals who are charged with embezzling millions in client funds.

    There were no immediate, easy answers.

    “Our entire community has been rocked and outraged by the indictment,” said Wendy York, a retired Albuquerque state district judge who chairs the commission that was appointed in April by the state Supreme Court. “Ayudando, unfortunately, gives us a template for recommendations …”

    York also noted that a representative from Ayudando earlier this year “made certain statements that may turn out not to be true.”

    Sharon Moore, Ayudando’s chief financial officer, told commissioners in May that Ayudando was audited yearly by the New Mexico Office of Guardianship, which serves indigent clients. But an official from that office recently told the Journal the audits aren’t financial but are essentially program reviews of a guardian contractor’s staffing, policies and procedures.

    Commission members hope to come up with initial recommendations for reforms by Oct. 1. Those could include recommendations for more detailed annual reports from the guardians and conservators appointed by judges around the state for adults deemed mentally incapacitated.

    Commissioner Jorja Armijo-Brasher, director of Albuquerque Department of Senior Affairs, said the commission needs to figure out “what’s missing in the process so we don’t let this (Ayudando case) happen in the future.”

    Tim Gardner, an attorney with the Disability Rights New Mexico, told his fellow commissioners, “I think the risk has always been there.” He said sometimes guardians and conservators file the required annual financial or guardianship reports to the court about their clients, but sometimes they don’t. Sometimes judges have the time to read the reports, he said, but sometimes they don’t.

    With the state’s courts financially strained, “There’s almost never a verified audit,” Gardner said. “The system is not there to prevent this from happening.”

    Commissioner state District Judge Nancy Franchini, of Bernalillo County, said she understands that Ayudando defendants, which include Moore and Ayudando president Susan Harris, were indicted solely because of alleged embezzlement of Veterans Affairs and Social Security benefits they managed for their clients. A federal indictment unsealed July 19 contends that at least 10 veterans were victims of the scheme. Losses have been estimated at $4 million or more.

    “When all this came down, it was only regarding federal money. There’s nobody as far as I know who’s investigated the state money” that may also be missing, Franchini added.

    The Journal earlier this week posed several questions to the U.S. Marshals Office, which is overseeing the agency’s operations under court order.

    But in an email Friday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and Marshals Service declined to answer them, noting that the Department of Justice policy “generally prohibits us from disclosing information that is not a matter of public record.”

    “Ayudando clients will receive notices as part of the transfer process to new representative-payee or guardianship service providers,” the email stated. “The Marshals Service anticipates that it will close the physical Ayudando office at some point, but it will continue to oversee Ayudando’s business affairs and to ensure clients receive necessary services as ordered by the courts. The U.S. Marshals Service is committed to ensuring that all Ayudando clients continue to receive the services they need and deserve.”

    Full Article & Source:
    Commission: No easy answers on guardianship crisis

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    Financial companies appear to be failing senior investors.

    At a time when senior financial fraud is on the rise, financial regulators say those on the first line of defense—brokerages and financial advisors—aren’t doing enough to stop it, according to a recent survey fielded by the North American Securities Administrators Association.

    About three out of four state securities regulators say they do not believe the financial industry is doing enough to prevent senior financial fraud, according to the survey. Perhaps even more alarming: Of the cases that do get reported, an overwhelming majority of regulators (97%) say that the abuses have gone undetected far too long.

    Such delays can be devastating to seniors, who are usually retired and drawing on their accumulated lifetime savings, rather than bringing in money. And the amounts at stake can be substantial. In Virginia alone, financial exploitation robs victims of an estimated $1.2 billion a year, according to the state's Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services.

    “Early detection and reporting are critical,” says NASAA's president, Mike Rothman. Unlike younger investors, seniors do not have the luxury of time to recoup losses inflicted by financial exploitation, he says, so catching and stopping the fraud early could be the difference between having enough money to live on or not.

    It’s not just regulators pointing fingers. In a survey of over 60 broker-dealers in June, about 70% said they didn’t have any policies in place that were specifically tailored to seniors. And less than half said they have developed a form for customers to identify an emergency or trusted contact to be used in case the senior investor becomes incapacitated—a procedure the industry considers a critical step for protecting vulnerable customers.

    “Many firms need to put all the pieces together,” Rothman said.

    That's especially true when it comes to reporting elder fraud. NASAA found in the June survey that while firms reported suspected cases of senior financial fraud to adult protective services about 62% of the time, they only reported the cases to local law enforcement 4% of the time—and less than 1% of the time to state securities regulators.

    In many cases, it's up to investors and their networks of friends and family members to protect themselves. Caregivers should monitor new relationships, Rothman says, adding that early warning signs could be new “friends” who show excessive interest in an individual's finances or accounts.

    Another red flag for friends and family: any abrupt changes to financial documents, such as power of attorney, account beneficiaries, wills, trusts, property titles, and deeds. That's especially true if a new caretaker, relative or friend suddenly begins conducting financial transactions on behalf of a senior.

    Part of helping senior investors is also keeping up with changes to the rules and regulations, as they can differ state to state. And there has been some improvement toward getting more protections put in place. About half of state securities agencies have started to implement newly established rules requiring financial advisors who suspect fraud to report it. About 13 states— Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, Texas and Vermont—have actually put the new rules into effect, while many others continue to work on enacting similar legislation.

    And a new industry rule going into effect next February will require brokerage firms to ask all customers for the name of a trusted contact who can act as a resource when a financial advisor suspects that the client's mental faculties have declined. That rule will also allow brokerage firms to delay fund transfers when they suspect financial exploitation—giving the firms time to investigate a situation and contact the client, the trusted contact, and even law enforcement if appropriate. This is crucial because it's almost impossible to recover the funds once they're in the hands of a fraudster.

    On the federal level, Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) introduced the Senior$afe Act in January. While the bill contains numerous provisions aimed at protecting seniors from fraud, there has been little movement to push it through Congress, and Skopos Labs estimates there's only about a 5% chance of it being enacted.

    Yet Rothman says it's legislation like this that would help bolster existing protections. “The bill calls for greater training of financial institutions and professionals on how to identify and report suspected exploitation of a senior citizen,” he says.

    Full Article & Source:
    Wall Street Is Failing to Protect Seniors From Fraud, Say Regulators

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    (CNN)At first, no one believed them when they said the charming, well-liked aide in the nursing home where they lived had raped them.+

    Claims like theirs are often dismissed as drug-induced hallucinations, signs of dementia or attempts by lonely residents to get attention. And even when the cases of nursing home residents get to court, they can fall apart when victims' memories prove unreliable -- or they are no longer alive to testify.
    This time was different.

    The two women made their way to the courthouse in Waynesville, North Carolina, last week to testify against the man entrusted with their care.

    One entered the courtroom in her wheelchair, two oxygen tanks behind her, and defiantly described the February night when 58-year-old Luis Gomez lifted up her nightgown. He had entered her room at the Brian Center, a nursing home in the center of town, when she was alone and asked if she needed to go the bathroom. She said she did, and climbed out of bed. As she entered the bathroom and faced the toilet, she heard the door close and lock. Then, she said, Gomez raped her.

    At first, no one acted on her accusation, and she feared Gomez might appear in her room again at any moment. But when a nurse insisted on notifying police -- against the wishes of her boss -- the call triggered an investigation. And women just down the hall from the resident came forward, with their own allegations against Gomez.

    Now he has been sentenced to at least 23 years behind bars.

    "What this man has done for a period of almost a decade is ... prey on Alzheimer's patients because they're forgetful and they can't remember and oftentimes they die," the prosecutor told the judge during sentencing.

    "In 2016, Your Honor, he made the grave mistake of hurting the wrong woman. She was brave enough to tell, and she wouldn't be quiet until everybody listened. And because of her, that's the only reason that we are finally able to put him in prison."

    After a weeklong trial, Gomez was found guilty of raping both women who testified against him -- convicted on six counts that included forcible rape with a physically helpless victim. He still maintains his innocence, and is appealing the verdict.

    At his sentencing, the prosecutor said the two women who testified against him were not his only victims.

    Six others have accused him, she said. At three different facilities in the area. Some were in their 50s and 60s. At least one was nearly 90.

    None were believed, until the woman who was raped in her nightgown came forward. Gomez's attorney told jurors they shouldn't believe her either.

    "He told me I'm untruthful, and I said, no I am not," the victim, now 55, said of the lawyer's questioning. "He made me feel like I was a worm crawling on the ground." CNN does not typically identify victims of sexual abuse.  (Click to Continue)

    Full Article & Source:
    No one believed he would rape nursing home residents. Now he is going to prison

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