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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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    NIOBRARA, Neb. — Andrea Rodriguez has seen tribal elders, held in great respect by the Native American culture, also subjected to abuse.

    In that respect, elder abuse cuts across racial lines and knows no color.

    Rodriguez has worked with a variety of cases as the domestic violence program coordinator for the Ponca Tribe. The tribe doesn’t have a reservation, but its service area includes Knox County, Nebraska.

    “We’ve been seeing an average of about six cases of elder abuse a year, most of it for financial exploitation,” Rodriguez said.

    “We’ve also seen emotional, physical, sexual and even spiritual abuse. The elders are a vulnerable population.”

    The Ponca Tribe recently received a $17,148 Elder Abuse Innovation Grant Award. The non-renewable grant allows the tribe to address elder abuse throughout its 15-county service area in Nebraska, Iowa and South Dakota.

    “The grant allows us to serve Knox County and do more in the Niobrara area,” Rodriguez said. “This will be an expansion of our current services here (in Niobrara), and we have staff members based in Sioux City who are able to make visits.”

    The Ponca Tribe’s grant is awarded through the National Indigenous Elder Justice Initiative (NIEJI) Innovation program. Tribes from around the United States submitted proposals.

    NIEJI Innovation awarded funding to eight tribes from eight states to help them develop programs for their communities.

    The tribal efforts will focus on two different areas of need, she said.

    “It allows us to offer outreach and prevention work on elder abuse,” she said. “We can also develop a section of the Ponca tribal code that will better serve Native American elders. We hope to reach the under-served.”

    The tribe intends to create greater awareness of abuse and neglect cases involving Native American elders, Rodriguez said. The tribe can also develop policy and a structure for reporting, investigating and intervening in those cases.

    Elder abuse is just part of a wider problem, Rodriguez said. The grant will supplement work already under way with tribal domestic violence programs, she said.

    “In 2016, our Domestic Violence Program served 262 Native American victims of abuse,” she said. “Of those, eight were elders.”

    The awareness and outreach effort could discover undetected or unserved cases because of a lack of resources.

    Rodriguez pointed to various types of abuse:

    • Financial exploitation could consist of a family member or other person either directly taking or talking the elderly person into signing over resources. Those funds could include disability or retirement checks, savings or government funds such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

     “The persons might tell the elder that they’re going to deposit the check in the bank and will instead cash it and keep the money for themselves,” Rodriguez said.

    • Emotional abuse may not show physical scars but can also inflict damage, Rodriguez said.

    “Emotional abuse can consist of name calling or putting down someone or isolating them,” she said. “Isolation can mean family members or others are kept from coming to the elder’s home, or the elder is kept from making contact with others.”

    Law enforcement or other authorities may be contacted to conduct a welfare check on the elderly person, she said. The police and courts may also be contacted in cases of stalking and harassment.

    • In physical and sexual abuse cases, the criminal justice system can become involved and receive a victim impact statement. Two sexual abuse cases last year involved elderly victims, she said.

    • Spiritual abuse may include the prevention of elderly persons from practicing their religious faith, Rodriguez said.

    “We have Native Americans who are not allowed or who are prevented from attending powwows and other spiritual events,” she said. “There might be instances where someone has refused to let anybody talk to an elder about spiritual matters.”

    The Ponca Tribe domestic violence programs offer services ranging from advocacy, transportation and legal action to counseling, medical care and other resources, Rodriguez said.

    Sometimes, family members contact authorities with concerns about an elder’s well-being, Rodriguez said. In some cases, law enforcement or social workers are brought into the setting. Other times, the victim may need to relocate for safety reasons.

    “We advise victims who are ready to leave, so they know the safe time to leave and what to take with them,” she said. “Also, we advise them who to contact and who not to contact.”

    Under the NIEJI grant, the Ponca Tribe’s domestic violence program plans to expand its elderly outreach, Rodriguez said. Staff will make presentations at weekly congregate elder lunches, Circle of Elders monthly meetings and Northern Ponca Elders Council quarterly meetings.

    In addition, the staff will host informational booths at tribal community dinners and create newsletter articles mailed to all Ponca elders.

    The staff will also involve elders on what to include with the Tribal Elder Code. A code will be established to protect elders within the jurisdiction of the Ponca Tribe from abuse, exploitation and neglect.

    Currently, the Community Response Teams meet monthly to discuss effective and accountable services for perpetrators and enhanced support for victims.

    The newly-awarded grant will provide greatly-needed funds, Rodriguez said. The grant is administered through the University of North Dakota’s Center for Rural Health.

    “The biggest challenge is funding for our programs and affordable housing for our victims,” she said.

    The Ponca Tribe’s domestic violence program recently won the Nebraska State Advocate of the Year award, Rodriguez said. The staff will be recognized at a Sept. 20 ceremony in Lincoln.

    “We are promoting our domestic violence program,” she said. “We take this (problem) seriously.”

    Full Article & Source:
    Ponca Tribe Gets Grant To Battle Elder Abuse

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    Click to Watch Video
    Jody Jenkins earns a yearly salary of more than $80,000 as the elected judge executive of Union County. Now, he's alleged to have defrauded the very people who put him into office. A federal grand jury in Bowling Green indicted Jenkins Wednesday morning on four counts of honest services fraud, a statute that is typically applied to those accused of public corruption.

    The four count indictment alleges Jenkins devised a scheme to deprive the citizens of the county of their right to honest and faithful services of the office of judge executive. Federal prosecutors allege Jenkins solicited and received approximately $20,000 in kickbacks during the purchase of several pieces of heavy equipment that was later tied to an elaborate theft ring.

    The theft ring targeted heavy equipment like skid steers and mini-excavators across three states. Four men, Thomas Elpers, Andrew Elpers, Jordan Wedel and Jason Habermel, were all all federally indicted for their roles in the theft ring. All four men have pleaded guilty and are currently serving their sentences.

    According to the now-public indictment, Jenkins took steps to hide, conceal and cover-up his actions, including directing that false and fraudulent invoices be submitted.

    Eyewitness News has been investigating the county's purchase of the stolen equipment since early 2015.

    According to purchasing records obtained by Eyewitness News, the Union County Fiscal Court purchased several pieces of equipment later tied to the theft ring, totaling more than $100,000. That equipment was seized by the FBI in late 2014.

    As Eyewitness News has previously reported, the equipment the county purchased had numerous red flags including altered serial numbers. The equipment was also purchased for significantly below market value, sometimes more than $40,000 less than it would normally sell for.

    Judge Jenkins previously told Eyewitness News that the equipment was purchased in good faith.

    One of the four men indicted as part of the theft ring, 45-year-old Jason Habermel, made damaging statements against Judge Jenkins during his sentencing hearing earlier this year.

    Under oath, Habermel stated Andrew Elpers set a price on the stolen equipment that was to be bought by the Union County Fiscal Court. The price was set at just below $20,000 at Judge Jenkins' direction, Habermel said. This was done to avoid triggering the state's model procurement law which requires government agencies to publicly bid out purchases that exceed $20,000, according to Habermel's testimony.

    The county's business transactions with Habermel began in early 2014 and abruptly stopped six months later.

    Habermel stated that he would take the checks signed by Judge Jenkins and cash them at a Planters Bank location in Union County. From there, Habermel stated he would take anywhere from $500 to $1500 from the proceeds as a 'brokerage fee.'

    Habermel wasn't the only person taking a cut of the proceeds, according to his testimony.

    While under oath, Habermel told the court that Judge Jenkins would ask for a 'cost of doing business' in Union County that would be anywhere from $2000 to $2500. Habermel's attorney later characterized these transactions as 'kick backs' for Judge Jenkins. Habermel would also implicate Union County Clerk Trey Peak and local businessman Steve Eckels. As Eyewitness News has previously reported, Eckels has often received preferential treatment in terms of being awarded county contracts.

    "I would pay Mr. Eckels, Jody Jenkins' friend," Habermel testified. "He would also receive monetary compensation for doing business in Union County as well as Trey Peak who is a county official as well. That was brought forth to me by them, saying that, 'if we're going to do business with you (Habermel), this is just the cost of business."

    Jenkins was not at his office when Eyewitness News tried to reach him for comment. A fiscal court staff member told Eyewitness News that Jenkins had not returned from an early morning appointment. Additionally, Jenkins did not return calls requesting comment.

    Law enforcement sources said Jenkins has retained an attorney. However, the identity of Jenkins' attorney is unknown.

    Jenkins will make his initial appearance in federal court later this month. If convicted, Jenkins could be sentenced to no less than 20 years in prison for each count, fined $1 million and serve a three year period of supervised release. Jenkins can remain as judge executive through the duration of his criminal case, according to state law. Jenkins can only be removed from office if he's convicted of a felony.

    Click here for the official release from the US Attorney's Office.

    Click here to read the indictment.

    Full Article & Source:
    Union Co. Judge Executive Indicted on Public Corruption Charges

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    Are you safe from abuse if your paperwork is in order, i.e. a trust? Decide for yourself. This video features Judge Lois Murphy, attorney Robert Slutsky, professional guardian Louis Horvath and his company Intervention Associates. Source: Shenanigans in the Montgomery County, PA, Courthouse - Florence's Story

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    Mary Bush returns for part 2 of her mothers guardianship case. Geneveive is still being isolated and held prisoner for-profit. Mary who lives about 15 miles from the locked in facility where her mother is, has not seen her mother since January 2016. Mary has since discovered and reported to Chester County Adult Protective Services that her mother again has not seen her cardiologist for a year and a half.

    After filing another petition to the court to get her mother to her doctor, the court issued an order stating "I will not micromanage (Guardianship Services of Pennsylvania) care decisions absent compelling reasons". The court also ordered that Mary who is her mother's legal health care agent is to " cease and desist" "scheduling appointments for her mother". If guardianship is about protecting vulnerable older adults, then who is the Court really protecting?

    Hour 2:
    Jeffrey Hennell joins the show to talk about yet another victim of Chester County, Pennsylvania probate, his mother. Jeffrey's mother was another victim of Carol Hershey. The house sold, personal items sold and family memorabilia left in a dumpster...including his father's ashes.

    LISTEN to the show live or listen to the archive later

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    September 12, 2017
    ACL recently awarded grants totaling nearly $3 million to 14 states to support caregivers by strengthening lifespan respite care programs. These programs seek to improve the well-being of families by coordinating existing respite systems, providing education and training opportunities, and expanding respite services.

    North Dakota and South Dakota were awarded new state grants totaling $400,000 for three-year projects. The funding will be used to plan, establish, and expand lifespan respite care systems that provide new and planned emergency respite services, train and recruit respite workers and volunteers, and assist caregivers with accessing needed services.

    Twelve states have been awarded three-year Advancing State Lifespan Respite Systems grants totaling more than $2.5 million to build on progress made under previous Lifespan Respite Care Program grants. Projects will focus on developing and strengthening the components of a lifespan respite care System deemed necessary for improving access, consistency, quality, sustainability; and reducing duplication in respite service delivery.

    The 12 states are:
    • Alabama
    • Arizona
    • Colorado
    • Idaho
    • North Carolina
    • Nevada
    • New York
    • Oklahoma
    • Rhode Island
    • South Carolina
    • Tennessee
    • Washington 
    Caregivers are often referred to as the backbone of America’s long-term care system. A 2009 study estimated that 65.7 million people in nearly 32% of U.S. household acted as unpaid family caregivers.

    Respite care offers individuals or family members temporary relief from the daily routine and stress that can come with providing care. Respite can play a critical role in strengthening family stability and maintaining the health of the family caregiver.

    Since 2009, ACL has awarded competitive lifespan respite grants to 37 states and the District of Columbia. Each state collaborates with an Aging and Disability Resource Center/No Wrong Door system, as well as a public or private non-profit statewide respite care coalition or organization.

    Full Article & Source:
    ACL Awards Grants to Help States Support Caregivers, Strengthen Lifespan Respite Systems

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    SAN ANTONIO — A new state law seeks to protect our most vulnerable citizens from financial exploitation.

    House Bill 3921 went into effect Sept. 1 and is already helping banks and credit unions stop financial exploitation and other forms of elder abuse.

    "It's sad," said Rhonda Valdez. "It's hard to get to the bottom of it."

     Valdez is worried sick. She believes her 85-year old mother is a victim of elder abuse and she's not sure what to do about it.

    "Some people can't afford an attorney," Valdez said. "It's expensive. What are you supposed to do?"

    Bexar County has the second-highest number of suspected abuse cases in the state according to adult protective services.

    Last year nearly 10,000 cases were reported, including instances of suspected abuse, neglect and financial exploitation.

    "It could be your brother," Valdez said. "It could be your sister."

    "We work closely with financial institutions to be able to provide us some of that background information so we can explore it further," said Ann Cortez, district director of adult protective services.

    A new state law requires financial institutions to report suspected financial exploitation within five business days.

    "Well I think that's great it's about time somebody's got to stand up for them," Valdez said.

    "One of the red flags is the customer looks as though they're frightened, or they look as though they're being coerced to pull money out," said Estrellita Garcia-Diaz of Jefferson Bank.

    Jefferson Bank already reported suspicious activity internally.

    "Changes in their spending habits," Garcia-Diaz said. "You can see that they're drawing more cash out on a more frequent basis or sometimes the checks presented for payment show a different signature."

    The new law provides oversight from the state and allows financial institutions to help launch investigations into suspected abuse at home.

    "Just those things are a hint as to what could be going on behind closed doors," Garcia-Diaz said.
    If you suspect a loved one has become a victim of abuse exploitation or neglect you can connect with Adult Protective Services using their 24-hour hotline, 1 (800) 252-5400.

    Full Article & Source:
    New law protects vulnerable citizens from financial exploitation and other abuse

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    Robert M.A. Nadeau
    ALFRED — The two year suspension of the Maine law license of former York County Judge of Probate Robert M.A. Nadeau will go into effect Oct. 1.

    The Maine Supreme Judicial Court on Thursday rejected Nadeau’s request for a reconsideration of the decision they made in June to suspend him for violating judicial canons during during his last term as York County Judge of Probate.

    “The sanctions we impose here rest on our consideration of all of Nadeau’s history of professional misconduct, as both an attorney and a judge,” the justices wrote in a 10-page response to his request for reconsideration.

    “As we stated in the opinion that is the subject of this motion, this is now the fourth time that Judge Nadeau has appeared before us for ethical violations, and the third time for conduct that occurred while serving in a judicial capacity. Here, his actions were often carried out in an intemperate and vindictive fashion against former colleagues of his law practice and their associates. Attorneys’ reputations were harmed, and litigants before him were pressured to support his efforts to increase court resources and his compensation. Judge Nadeau has not fully acknowledged the intemperate nature of his decisions.“

    The justices wrote that prior corrective actions had not been effective.

    “This time, therefore, more severe sanctions are warranted,” they said.

    Following complaints filed by the Committee on Judicial Responsibility and Disability, the justices in June found Nadeau violated judicial canons when he directed probate court staff not to make court appointments to seven attorneys; regarding his removal of a previously appointed attorney from pending cases; his issuance of orders urging litigants appearing before him to lobby for increased court time, and his personal solicitation of campaign contributions for his 2016 election campaign, according to the court document.

    In his motion for reconsideration, Nadeau pointed out that the Committee on Judicial Responsibility and Disability had asked for a suspension of his license to practice law only if he were to again run for probate judge.

    Nadeau also raised questions about due process, the burden of proof and what he described as the Maine Supreme Judicial Court’s commentary regarding whether he "fully acknowledged the intemperate nature of his decisions.”

    “Regardless of the circumstances and my efforts to quickly right any wrongs when I made them, and regardless of the applicable canons, my goal was always to avoid errors of any sort, and to do what was best and most supportive for the users of the probate court,” he wrote. “I apologize for not having done better, and I blame only myself."

    The justices found that Nadeau’s order to staff to reschedule all pending court cases in the hours after his bid for more court time and a larger salary was rejected by York County Commissioners in 2015, did not constitute a violation of judicial canons.

    “With this history, Nadeau was certainly on notice regarding the sanctions he could face; he has not been denied due process in this proceeding; and he has failed to demonstrate that he has been sanctioned more harshly than others similarly situated, having identified no Maine attorney with a history of professional misconduct violations as extensive as his own,” the justices concluded.

    Nadeau served several terms as York County Judge of Probate. He was first elected in 1996 and again in 2002 and 2004. He lost the 2008 election but was returned to the bench in 2012. He lost in a three-way race to Sanford Attorney Bryan Chabot in November 2016; Chabot took office in January.

    Full Article & Source:
    Former Probate Judge Nadeau suspended

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    A 94-year-old woman living at the Florida nursing home where eight residents died after an air conditioning system failed in the wake of Hurricane Irma is now suing the rehabilitation center, claiming it showed "negligence and reckless indifference" toward its elderly residents.

    Rosa Cabrera's legal guardian filed the lawsuit in a Broward County state court on Friday on her behalf against the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills in Hollywood, Florida. 

    Eight of the nursing home's residents died last week after the facility's electrical system for its air conditioning stopped working in the aftermath of the hurricane that hit Florida on September 10.
    Cabrera is a double amputee "without the ability to walk or live independently," the complaint says. She sustained heat-related injuries and had to be hospitalized as a result of the days-long failure of the nursing home's air conditioning system, the complaint alleges. 

    "As the hurricane approached, Ms. Cabrera was told by the Rehab Center that she would not be evacuated, but would be safe and cared for" at the nursing home, the complaint says. She did not know that the nursing home lacked a generator to power its air conditioning system in the event of a power failure, the lawsuit alleges. 

    The complaint further contends that the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills should have known that the storm would cause a power outage, and that if that happened "the temperature inside the facility would be unsafe and dangerous" for its more than 150 residents. 

    "Notwithstanding these foreseeable, dangerous, and life-threatening conditions, the defendant made no effort to relocate the elderly and vulnerable residents or to secure an adequate cooling system for the center," the complaint says. 

    The lawsuit alleges that the Rehabilitation Center failed to adequately prepare for Irma after hurricane and storm-surge warnings were first issued for Broward County on Sept. 7. 

    Hill and Knowlton Strategies, a public relations firm representing the nursing home told ABC News, "It would be inappropriate to discuss a pending suit. However, counsel will be reviewing the filing." 

    Most of the eight residents of the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills who died had been treated for respiratory distress, dehydration, and heat-related issues, officials said. Some of the patients admitted to nearby Memorial Regional Hospital felt temperatures of up to 106 degrees, hospital officials said Thursday. 

    A timeline released by the public relations firm for the nursing home says that the center's staff reached out repeatedly to emergency hotlines and the local power utility in the days after the air conditioning system failed on Sept. 10. 

    Nursing home officials also called the personal cell phone of Florida Gov. Rick Scott seeking help, the governor's office confirmed to ABC News on Saturday. 

    Scott's office said the messages left on his cell phone were referred to two other agencies.

    “Every call made to the governor from facility management was referred to the Agency for Health Care Administration and the Florida Department of Health, and quickly returned,” John Tupps, Scott's communications director, said Friday, 

    In a statement, the Florida Department of Health said, “It is 100 percent the responsibility of health care professionals to preserve life by acting in the best interest of the health and well-being of their patients. Let’s be clear -- this facility is located across the street from one of Florida’s largest hospitals, which never lost power and had fully operating facilities. The tragic and senseless loss at Hollywood Hills Rehabilitation Center is the subject of a criminal homicide investigation by law enforcement.”

    Full Article & Source;
    94-year-old sues Florida nursing home where 8 residents died in wake of Hurricane Irma

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    “The Texas Guardianship Association has advocated for more than twenty years for a caring, responsible, and comprehensive system to care for vulnerable adults by protecting them from abuse, neglect, and exploitation when court-imposed guardianship is necessary. The guardianship community and other advocates came together to unanimously support Senate Bill 667, sponsored by Senator Judith Zaffirini, which would have provided the Texas Office of Court Administration with funding to independently audit guardianship cases in Texas courts to ensure that court-appointed guardians are in compliance with the Texas Estates Code. The veto of this bill by Governor Abbott was not only surprising but also highlights the need for enhanced understanding of the need for protection of adults with diminished capacity at the highest levels of our state government.

    While it is true that the Governor has signed into law a number of guardianship reform bills over the past two legislative sessions, these bills were primarily designed to impose additional responsibilities on guardians, who are most often family members who may not know or fully understand their duties as guardians. Lacking in the reforms to date have been provisions that would assist the courts in ensuring that court-appointed guardians are in compliance with these progressive statutes.

    The Governor’s veto of funding for Senate Bill 667 prevents the Office of Court Administration from having the funds and staff necessary to ensure that every guardian in every case is in compliance with State law. This bill was the first step in a process that would have assisted Texas courts in becoming more proactive and responsible in ensuring guardians are properly managing the personal and financial affairs of vulnerable Texans.

    The Texas Guardianship Association will move forward with a renewed commitment to educate public officials and the private community in Texas regarding additional reforms needed to protect adults in Texas. In this regard, the first order of business is to analyze the challenges faced by general jurisdiction courts in Texas that generally have thousands of active cases without specialized staff to monitor and audit activities by guardians. With more than 50,000 adults and in excess of five billion dollars under management by Texas guardians, this should be the first order of business by elected officials in Texas.”

    Terry W Hammond, President of the TGA Board of Directors

    Full Article & Source:
    TGA’s Response to Governor Abbott’s Veto of SB667

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    The former guardian of a Jefferson County widow is being held without bail until she accounts for hundreds of thousands of dollars advocates say is missing.

    Laura Cooper, the former guardian of a Jefferson County widow, is in the Leon County Jail on contempt charges until she files a report for the judge.
    Credit Leon County Jail
    According to court documents, 43-year-old Laura Cooper of Clinton, Arkansas appeared in a Tallahassee courtroom on Tuesday to plead for more time to produce a guardianship report. 
    But Leon Circuit Judge Robert Long ordered Cooper held without bond until she produces a report the court first demanded May 24th.

    Advocates for Delores Caracci contend more than $400,000 in cash, real estate, and vehicles is missing from her estate.

    Full Article & Source:
    Former Guardian Jailed After Missing Report Deadline

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    ST. PETERSBURG, Fla - Dozens of cockroaches where caught on camera creeping and crawling in a patient's room at a local assisted living facility, and it's not the first time the ALF has had problems with infestations.

    “They're crawling up the wall, crawling up on me,” said Geri Cataraso, as she narrates video she shot inside a patient’s room at Bristol Court Assisted Living Facility in St. Petersburg. “We saw them all the time. There's just holes in the wall, where the roaches go through.”

    She was visiting her friend John Maddox, a Navy veteran referred there by the VA, after he had a stroke.

    “Look at the cockroach walking on the wall right behind where he's sleeping,” she said in one video clip. “25 years in the military, this is where you put him in?”

    Maddox also lost 30 pounds in 90 days, she said.

    The administrator didn't want to do an on camera interview, but she said that the ALF serves a unique population, including homeless people, who sometimes bring in pests like bedbugs and cockroaches on their shoes.

    “That doesn't occur in an hour,” said attorney Jim Wilkes who reviewed the video.

    He has sued hundreds of ALFs, including Bristol Court.

    “If it's allowed to happen over and over again, the law says it's abuse. If it goes on for weeks and months, it's abuse,” said Wilkes.

    Bristol Court claims an exterminator treats the home monthly, but state records say that wasn't always the case.

    In 2015, the ALF was fined for failing to professionally treat a "known infestation of bedbugs” which sent residents to the hospital. That same year, an employee shaved seven residents' heads, including four women without proper consent, during a lice outbreak.

    “If the person is being treated that way at home, protective services would come out, take them away and arrest the family,” said Wilkes.

    There was an arrest of an employee at Bristol Court earlier this year. 20-year-old Alexis Williams was charged with two counts of video voyeurism. She was arrested for posting secretly-filmed videos of two residents having sex on Snapchat.

    Maddox recently left Bristol Court, with help from Cataraso, his attorney and a professional guardian. He is now recovering at another facility.

    Cataraso shared her videos with state investigators, hoping they'll force Bristol Court to take care of its problems.

    “If more people would open their mouth to what they see, we could stop it,” she said.

    Full Article & Source:
    Cockroaches caught on video at Pinellas County Assisted Living Facility

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    Carlia Brady
    Good news for all jurists and prospective jurists out there — you can now date wanted criminals without having to drop a dime on them! Or at the very least, you can avoid official misconduct charges.

    Have you heard about the curious case of New Jersey Superior Court Judge Carlia Brady? She was dating Jason Prontnicki, who just so happened to be wanted by authorities for armed robbery. Once Brady was informed the po po were after her BF, he visited her house twice. And Brady, well, she did nothing to inform police.

    Judge Brady was indicted on official misconduct and hindering charges, and subsequently suspended from active duty. The trial court tossed the official misconduct charge, and now a New Jersey appellate court has agreed, as reported by
    The prosecution cited no authority to support “the contention that a judge has a nondiscretionary duty to enforce the order of another court, and it certainly has failed to demonstrate such a duty is ever present, obligating the judge to perform the duty wherever he or she may be, 24 hours a day, 365 days per year,” Judges Carmen Messano, Marianne Espinosa and Karen Suter ruled. Instead, the prosecution invited the grand jury to decide whether a Superior Court judge’s duties include enforcing an arrest warrant, the appeals court said. But the grand jury is “an accusatory and not an adjudicative body,” the panel said, and “the prosecutor must clearly and accurately explain the law to the grand jurors and not leave purely legal issues open to speculation by lay people who are simply performing their civic duty.”
    So that’s the difference between Biglaw and being a judge. Biglaw expects you to be on the clock 24/7.

    Unfortunately for Brady, she still has to face the hindering charges. The appellate panel believed letting Prontnicki into her home for multiple hours and providing him with a bag of clothes was enough to let those charges stand.

     Maybe this is really good news for the dating lives of judges. I mean, given their profession they pretty much hang around criminals and lawyers all day, and the latter option is too gnarly to contemplate.

    Full Article & Source:
    Judges Don’t Have To Snitch On Their Boyfriends To Avoid Official Misconduct Charges

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  • 09/19/17--23:00: Jason Hanson Goes To Court
  • Federal Court Judge Rules In Favor
    Of Guardianship Abuse Victim

    Overrules defendants 15 times, and remands case
    back to state court for an expedited trial

    "You could feel the oxygen leave the room the moment Hanson
    rolled into court to take his place at the plaintiff's table

    Inside Vegas by Steve Miller
    September 18, 2017

    LAS VEGAS - On Friday morning, September 15, 2017, Jason Hanson made his first court appearance in an emotion charged exploitation lawsuit involving prominent Las Vegas attorneys, a disgraced private guardian, a defrocked judge, and the Clark County Public Administrator, all of whom are accused of conspiring to steal Hanson's inheritance and estate with the full cooperation of several Family Court judges.

    Because of the logistics involved in transporting the 27 year old cerebral palsy victim to the Lloyd D. George Federal Courthouse in downtown Las Vegas, Hanson arrived at his hearing fifteen minutes late.  When Hanson arrived in court, you could hear a pin drop while two court bailiffs helped him make his way to his lawyer's side. When United States Federal Court Judge Jennifer A. Dorsey resumed hearing the arguments of the five attorneys representing defendants Francis Fine, Elyse Tyrell, Dara Goldsmith, Jared Shafer, and John Cahill, all eyes were focused on Hanson instead of paying attention to the jurist's pleas to keep the case in Federal Court, and dismiss all claims against each of their clients.

    Hanson arrived several minutes after his attorney Jacob Hafter had finished his opening statement telling the court why he believed his client would be better served in state court.  Hafter explained that he originally filed the case in the lower court because matters move at a much faster pace there, and that juries need only to reach a majority decision in state court rather than being required to reach a unanimous verdict in the federal court system.

    With his client now by his side, Hafter successfully argued that one of the defendants, Clark County Public Administrator John Cahill, purposefully filed a motion to move the case from state to federal court jurisdiction for the sole purpose of stalling the case to give advantages to the defense, and that his client Hanson seeks swifter justice based on his physical condition.

    Defendant's attorneys Robert Hernquist, Thomas Dillard, Jason Smith, Terry Brian, and Steven Parsons each argued unsuccessfully to have the case remain in federal court, and that Hanson's initial complaint filed in July 2017 was time barred because he became of legal age in 2007, and should have filed his lawsuit then.

    Hafter told the court that in 2007, Hanson twice asked Family Court Hearing Master Jon Norheim to appoint him an attorney, and was refused.  Hafter explained that Norheim twice told Hanson to file his request for an attorney in writing, but Hanson's physical limitations prohibited him from doing so. Hafter also told the court that Hanson was not aware his inheritance was being stolen until 2016 when he confronted Elyse Tyrell, one of his court appointed trustees, at a Nevada Supreme Court Guardianship Commission hearing, only then learning she had been holding a check for him for over nine years without his knowledge.  Attorney Hafter plead that the statute of limitations began running in 2016 when Hanson first learned of the fraud, not 2007 when Hanson turned 18 and had no idea he was being robbed.

    Several days after the 2016 Guardianship Commission hearing where Hanson appeared on local TV news demanding to know what happened to his inheritance,  a mysterious check for $5,530.74 was delivered to Hanson's group home.  Tyrell told reporters that it represented the entire remaining proceeds from the sale of Hanson's late father's ADA equipped condominium in a Las Vegas gated community that Jared Shafer sold for only $47,000.  Tyrell tried to explain that over $40,000 was used to pay "fees" generated by Shafer and his attorneys to facilitate the condo's sale.

    Prior to what was called a "fire sale," Clark County Public Administrator John Cahill appraised the
    1,200 square foot unit for $170,000 and charged his fee accordingly, then Cahill obediently transferred the title to his colleague Jared Shafer who purportedly sold the unit for much less, hence Cahill's inclusion in Hanson's lawsuit.  Prior to Cahill's election, Shafer held the same Public Administrator position, and helped Cahill win election to succeed him.  Shafer owns Signs of Nevada, the outdoor advertising company used by most Nevada politicians - including family court judges - and is the man to see for inexpensive political signs around election time. 

    Jared Shafer has been referred to as the "Mastermind" in other guardianship fraud cases based on his ability to help certain politicians and judges get elected and re-elected, the same judges who have consistently appointed him legal guardian over wealthy wards of the court.

    In court, Jacob Hafter told the judge, "Since I became Mr. Hanson's attorney, I get calls all the time from other guardianship victims seeking my help. They say they were all abused or exploited by the same group of players and judges," as he peered at the cadre of five discouraged looking defense lawyers sitting to his left with two of their clients, Francis Fine and Dara Goldsmith (Tyrell, Shafer, and Cahill were not present).  Hafter then said he will only represent Jason Hanson, and his client could easily win a unanimous verdict today if he were called as a witness and personally allowed to tell his story to any jury.

    Attorney Jacob Hafter

              Defendants: Francis Fine, Dara Goldsmith, Elyse Tyrell, Jared Shafer, John Cahill
                         (Click on image of Jared Shafer to view KTNV TV News video)

                             Click on image to view KTNV News video

    Hearing all she needed to hear, Judge Dorsey ruled in favor of Hanson thereby fulfilling his request to remand his case back to state court and not honor the defendant's motions to dismiss their clients, or time bar the case.

    After the hearing, a court observer told Inside Vegas, "Mr. Hanson attending the hearing made all the difference in the world.
    You could feel the oxygen leave the room the moment Hanson rolled into court to take his place at the plaintiff's table."



    Full Article & Source:
    Jason Hanson Goes To Court

    See Also:
    Steve Miller: Jason Hanson's Case May Have Been Compromised

    Steve Miller: Jason Hanson Sues Jared Shafer And Others For Civil Racketeering, Fraud, And Embezzlement

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    A Seymour family is demanding answers after they say their loved one died as a result of nursing home neglect.

    Tim Johnson died in a Columbus hospital Oct. 11, 2014, at the age of 43 as a result of sepsis and cardiac arrest after spending four years at the Seymour Crossing nursing home.

    “You put your loved one in there and you expect them to be taken care of,” said Rebekah Klaus, Johnson's sister.

    State inspection reports and police records obtained by Call 6 Investigates raise questions about whether the nursing home adequately cared for Johnson.

    Klaus tries to remember her brother, a Navy veteran, for how he lived, not how he died.

    “He loved his daughter, he loved his family, he loved animals, he loved life in general,” said Klaus.

    Tim Johnson battled rheumatoid arthritis and other health issues, and spent the last four years of his life in Seymour Crossing.

    “He couldn’t walk, that’s the reason he was at the Crossing,” said Klaus. “His knees wouldn’t go.”

    Following the death of Johnson, the Indiana State Department of Health/federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) conducted an investigation and inspection at Seymour Crossing on November 3, 5 and 6, 2014.

    The report shows on October 4, a staffer went to check on Johnson and found him lethargic, disoriented, whimpering and saying ‘please.’

    Johnson ended up in the hospital with sores and wounds on his body.

    The state/federal report said an Intensive Care Unit nurse at the hospital noted Johnson was unkempt, unclean and had a very strong smell.

    “(The right arm dressing) was saturated and foul…smelled like it had been there a while and we were all wearing masks,” an ICU nurse told investigators.

    Johnson’s family took pictures of the wounds, too graphic to show, including one on his right arm so deep it went down to the bone and muscle.

    “I became infuriated,” said Johnson’s 15-year-old daughter, Sydney. “They didn’t care for him the way they should have.”

    Johnson developed an infection complication known as sepsis, went into cardiac arrest, and was taken off life support at the age of 43.

    “I have cried every single day for a year,” said Klaus. “I still look at those pictures. I still go out to that graveyard every day and it haunts me.”

    Klaus and Sydney Johnson said they never noticed a wound on Tim’s arm because he was wearing a gown in his final weeks at the nursing home.

    “He was constantly wearing a gown,” said Klaus. “I feel like there was more that I could do.”

    Johnson’s family members said because they suspected he wasn’t getting adequate care, they tried to find another place to take him, but it was difficult to find another facility close by that accepted Medicaid.

    State/federal records show the dressing on Johnson’s arm wound had not been changed since September 26, a week before he ended up in the hospital, on October 4.

    Previously, the dressings were changed every Tuesday and Friday, records show.

    According to the inspection report, the nursing home’s wound nurse was not following protocol, and ordered Johnson’s wound treatment to be discontinued.

    “It’s abuse and neglect,” said Klaus.

    The wound nurse is no longer with the facility, according to the Seymour Police Department report.
    The Jackson County Prosecutor has decided not to file criminal charges in the death of Tim Johnson.

    “We did receive an investigation from Seymour Police Department, as well as from the Office of the Indiana Attorney General,” said Amy Marie Travis, Jackson County Prosecutor, in an email to Call 6 Investigates. “Neither entity found evidence to support the filing of criminal charges in this matter and did not recommend charges. My office did an independent review of the matter and did not find probable cause to file criminal charges.”

    Johnson’s family is disappointed.

    “I won’t have someone to walk me down the aisle on my wedding day, and I won’t have someone to look up to the rest of my life,” said Sydney Johnson, daughter of Tim Johnson. “It infuriates me that somebody did this to him and made us go through all this pain and suffering and they’re not going to be punished for it.”

    The state/federal investigation found Seymour Crossing failed to provide necessary care and services, and noted a deficiency in “Provide Care/Services for Highest Well Being.”  (Continue Reading)

    Full Article & Source:
    Family: Veteran died from nursing home neglect

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    In times of disaster, there are consequences that are obvious, such as loss of property and dramatic loss of life. However, there are also unseen consequences that, if left untreated, can prove just as fatal. Unfortunately, the recent horrific Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have recently disrupted the lives of millions of people and our thoughts are with them as they cope with these devastating events.

    It’s essential that we work to understand what people of all ages face following disaster, as well as the unique needs of more vulnerable populations.

    On Wednesday, Sept. 20, the Senate Special Committee on Aging will conduct a hearing focusing on the impact of these disasters on older adults. One such impact is that older adults become more prone to clinical malnutrition and health complications when access to food, particularly special diets, is interrupted through evacuations — and these vulnerable seniors are supposed to bring weeks’ worth of food with them when they leave.

    In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says, “Because Florida is so prone to hurricanes, its Department of Health recommends that older adults living in the state pack a 30-day supply of medication and a two-week supply of special diet foods or supplements when a hurricane is expected.”

    This important Senate hearing will be held during Malnutrition Awareness Week, sponsored by the American Society of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (ASPEN). The simple fact is, malnutrition among older adults is a growing threat to their quality and quantity of life, whether they are in a crisis or not. It is a problem that impacts both community-dwelling and hospitalized older adults.

    It is estimated that up to one out of two older adults are at risk of malnutrition — and it’s estimated that disease-associated malnutrition in older adults costs $51 billion annually. Although strides have been made, critical gaps remain in diagnosing and treating the condition. ASPEN estimates that “10 hospitalized patients with malnutrition continue to go undiagnosed every 60 seconds.” We also know that malnutrition increases the length of hospital stays and increases the risk of falls, contributing to readmission.

    The Defeat Malnutrition Today coalition and Avalere Health earlier this year released the National Blueprint: Achieving Quality Malnutrition Care for Older Adults. It was referenced at another hearing of the Senate Special Committee on Aging focused on nutrition and older adults. It identifies the four steps which, if adopted, can help improve older adult malnutrition care:

     Screen all patients

     Assess nutritional status

     Diagnose malnutrition if present

     Intervene with appropriate nutrition care

    One must take seriously the emerging threats to the well-being of older adults: hunger and food insecurity, chronic disease and disability, and social and mental health challenges, and that the results of these conditions can be malnutrition. There are solutions, both regulatory and legislative, which are being developed.

    Through regulations, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) should add malnutrition electronic clinical quality measures to the current quality measure set. These measures have been proposed and CMS has already acknowledged the need for these measures.

    Through legislation, in addition to providing full funding for all federal programs providing food and nutrition education to older adults, we need to work to ensure the nutrient quality of food provided with federal funds and that national health surveys include malnutrition measures.

    We can act in this session of Congress. The Farm Bill is up for reauthorization next year, and the Older Americans Act reauthorization from 2016 is still being implemented. These pieces of legislation contain almost all the nutrition programs that serve older adults. We should make sure they’re fully funded and helping older adults maintain the nutrients they need as well as identifying older adults at risk for malnutrition.

    By observing and acting during Malnutrition Awareness Week, we help to reinforce the obvious point that good nutrition is essential to better health. Whether dealing with a natural disaster or not, maintaining older adults’ nutritional status should always be a top priority.

    Full Article & Source:
    Seniors suffer the most after natural disasters

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    A Lowcountry family called the I-Team furious because their bank account was drained and they were informed they had to ask for permission to spend any money.

    When the courts take control of your finances it's called a conservatorship. Courts often intervene when a judge deems a person incapacitated.

    The Case of Benjamin Bennett
    Benjamin Bennett’s money was placed in a conservatorship last November after his doctor referred him to the Mt. Pleasant Police Department Senior Advocate. That Senior Advcate referred the Bennetts to Probate Court for the court to start a conservatorship. Bennett says now he can't tithe, take a vacation, or fix his roof without permission from the court.

    “It's my money I worked my whole life for,” Bennett told the I-Team.

    His daughter, Melissa, called the I-Team saying the problem started after her father’s doctor recommended the conservatorship to protect Mr. Bennett. Bennett recently sold land for a large sum of money. According to the doctor's report, Bennett showed signs of dementia and had voiced concerns about having so much money in the bank.

    “They pay like six people to take care of you, but you don't even know the six people,” Melissa Bennett explained. “They are strangers.”

    Melissa says with eight other siblings, the family is equipped the handle her parents' affairs. According to court and police reports on the case, there had been no signs of mistreatment or mismanagement of the Bennett’s money. Mr. Bennett's wife of 60 years, Ida, is his court appointed guardian, but even she can't access their retirement.

    “I've never been through nothing like this in my whole life,” Mrs. Bennett said.

    Court Appointed Control
    The court appointed Iris Albright's team at Family Services to oversee the finances.

    “The role of the conservator is to protect the assets of the individual,” Albright explained.

    She says her team invests the money and sets a budget for the person they are appointed to help. Albright says conservatorships are designed to intervene in cases where family members can't agree on spending or when there isn't anyone else to help.

    According to court records, there are 451 adults under a conservatorship in Charleston County. Court records show 37% of conservatorships are managed by a third-party versus a family member. A family member is always the first choice to handle a conservatorship, but there's a catch. They have to be backed with a bond or insurance. It can be very difficult to secure for family members without deep pockets.

    Fewer than one percent of cases are dissolved by the court each year. The typical case is an accident case where the person is in intensive care then regains capacity. That means 99% of cases are dissolved only after a ward dies.

    “Most individuals have some form of dementia and the person does not regain their capacity,” Probate Judge Irvin Condon explained via email. He's barred from speaking about any cases publicly, including the Bennett's case. He declined a taped interview on the topic of conservatorships.

    Mounting Fees

    The Bennett family fears several people including the courts, lawyers, doctors, and Family Services are making money off handling the Bennett's case.

    Family Services is a non-profit organization, but doe collect a fee to manage money for wards.

    Judge Condon sets the fees. He capped lawyer fees at $200 per hour. Doctors collect between $450 and $1,200 for exams. Social workers earn $275 to $300 for exams. Conservators collect roughly one percent of the money they manage each quarter. For the Bennett family, with roughly $500,000 in the account, that's $5,000 every three months.

    Their case is expected to be back in court by the end of October to determine if the court needs to continue the conservatorship.

    Planning for the future

    To avoid the court interventions, Judge Condon recommends establishing a Last Will and Testament, a Declaration of Desire for Natural Death (otherwise known as a Living Will), a Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare, and a Durable Power of Attorney for Business Affairs. Having the Durable Power of Attorney and the Health Care Power of Attorney would allow a family to bypass the Conservatorship/Guardianship procedures.

    As a public service, Charleston County and Judge Condon provide the statutory Living Will and Health Care Power of Attorney. If you need these documents contact the court here.

    Full Article & Source:
    News 2 I-Team: Court controls hundreds of peoples’ money

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    Elder abuse is a problem in western cultures world-wide. There are many forms of abuse ranging from neglect to physical abuse, and within that range is financial fraud. Elder fraud can take many forms and we’ll focus on the type of fraud that primarily uses the internet in this article.

    Seniors are disproportionately targeted as victims for fraud. The AARP (formerly the American Association of Retired People) found that while only 35 percent of the American population is over 50 years old, fraud victims over 50 accounted for 57 percent of all fraud. 

    It’s difficult to obtain numbers on how large a problem elder fraud is world-wide. Different organizations calculate numbers in different ways and also define fraud differently. All we can be sure of is that billions of dollars are lost each year to criminals preying on elder citizens.

    Fraud and the internet: a backgrounder

    Fraudsters play a numbers game. They know that most of their attempts to con people won’t work, but they also know that some will. To succeed, the con-man has to make as many tries as possible. Going door-to-door attempting to scam people has low odds because it takes a long time and it’s only possible to hit so many doors in a day. Also, once a scam succeeds, the con-man has to high-tail it out of town before getting caught. Then, find another town and start all over.

    The internet removed all those problems for fraudsters. They can now sit in the comfort of their own home, possibly countries away, and through the use of spam email attempt to con thousands of people per day, every day.

    Elder fraud is a specific type of fraud aimed at seniors. The most common way that seniors are targeted over the internet is through email. General phishing techniques are used against a large number of email addresses with content aimed at seniors. Content aimed at seniors usually falls into these categories:
    1. Medication
    2. Financial support with regards to home equity or retirement savings
    3. Friendship or camaraderie
    From responses to that general attack, more targeted spear phishing can take place in an attempt to defraud specific individuals.

    Why are elders targeted?

    The problems that plague humanity are fairly steady throughout life. We all want to be safe, warm, fed, loved, and financially secure. Very few people have all of those things all the time, and in our elder years the absence of some of those things can converge into a pattern.

    It’s easier to phish people if you know what their problems are. A general phishing attack may use low mortgage rates, as an example. At any given time there are millions of people looking for mortgages but there are billions who are not and don’t care about the mortgage email. Seniors, on the other hand, tend to have a smaller pool of things that are of greater concern. As a population, things like medication costs, proper health care coverage, financial security as retirement funds run out, and providing for loved ones left behind tend to get more attention. It’s therefore easier to craft phishing emails about a small number of subjects that a large percentage of a population is likely to be interested in.

    Other reasons may include the fact that many seniors are isolated and therefore have nobody they can trust to run ideas by. Email did not become widely affordable to households until the 1990s in Canada and wasn’t a daily communications mechanism until after that. Anyone over about 30 today has memories of a world without internet and our seniors would have spent most of their lives without it. That can lead to confusion over how reliable email is, and how much trust to assign it.

    It’s also not uncommon to experience some level of diminished mental capacity as we age. That can tax our decision-making abilities to the limit and lead to bad decisions.

    Common types of elder fraud

    A surprisingly sad statistic is that a good chunk of elder fraud is committed by family members or caregivers. The North American Securities Administrators Association reports that 23% of elder fraud causes in 2015 were committed by family members, trustees, or people with powers of attorney.
    Generally, those types of fraud are not committed over the internet since the parties are already known to each other. However, that doesn’t mean other types of fraud don’t exist – this body shop owner has been charged with defrauding elderly clients for car restoration jobs. Some of the more common internet scams take the following forms:

    Monetary scams

    Monetary scams aimed at elders are attractive to criminals for two diametrically opposed reasons. On one hand, many seniors are living on fixed and inadequate incomes and could use more money to live on. On the other hand, many seniors have sizable nest eggs and large amounts of equity in their houses so they can get their hands on a lot of money. The most insidious scams play both angles.

    Fraudulent investment or insurance schemes seek to bilk money out of people with the promise of some greater reward down the road. While it can be grisly to consider at the time, it is always important to think of how much time is left for an investment to mature. By and large, elder people would be looking at short-term investments and there are very few legitimate lucrative short-term investments. The insurance scam plays the other angle – there is no concept of pulling any money out of the insurance policy. Rather, heart strings are played upon to invest money for those left behind.

    In some cases, the insurance agent actually is a legitimately licensed insurance agent, but is still trying to commit fraud against the elderly. David Pickett, as US-based insurance agent, has been arrested 3 times for fraud.

    A sub-class of this type of fraud involves offers to lend money that seem too good to be true. These types of scams are usually complicated to figure out because it’s hard to believe someone can fraudulently give someone else money. A complex example of this is the reverse mortgage system that exists in some countries. In a reverse mortgage situation, elder homeowners with significant equity in their property can opt to take a chunk of money for the estimated value of their house at the time they pass on or willingly move. At that time, the lender takes possession of the house and the debt is paid. The danger lies in that the principal plus the interest over time can end up being more than the house is worth.

    In some countries, such as Canada, only 55 percent of the value of the property can be reversed mortgaged. That is to hedge against the possibility of the loan exceeding the value of the property when the debt is repaid. Some mortgage bloggers state that the value of the loan is not allowed to exceed the value of the property, but neither the government of Canada site, nor the single authorized reverse mortgage lender in the country (HomEquity Bank) confirm that. It’s harder to find concrete information on reverse mortgages in other countries. In the U.S., for example, the borrower’s estate generally does not have to pay any excess of the balance over the property value, but legislation enforcing that isn’t readily available. Reverse mortgages are not inherently fraudulent, but if the industry is not tightly controlled in your country, be sure to obtain sound third-party financial and legal advice beforehand.

    Lottery scams are targeted at people of all ages and elder people are no exception. The basic framework of a lottery or sweepstakes scam is to tell the victim they’ve won a large prize of some kind, but some smaller amount of money has to be paid in order to claim the prize. The money to be paid is usually attributed to non-existent things like “international transfer fees” or something equally silly. It is safe to say that if you’ve never entered a lottery, you can’t win it, so claims like this out of the blue are a red flag. Legitimate lotteries are tightly regulated to ensure there is no fraud. It is extremely unlikely that a real lottery organization would contact the winner by email to begin with.  (Click to Continue

    Full Article & Source:
    How to avoid and detect Elder Fraud: A guide for older people, carers and relatives

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    A longtime attorney with the Cook County public guardian's office will take over as acting public guardian, Chief Judge Timothy Evans announced Wednesday.

    Charles Golbert has been an attorney for the public guardian's office for nearly 26 years and succeeds Robert Harris, who is stepping down after his appointment to a Circuit Court judgeship by the Illinois Supreme Court. Harris is to be sworn in as a judge Friday.

    Harris started his career as a staff attorney with the office and took the public guardian's job in 2004. He has been an outspoken critic of shortfalls in Illinois' state child welfare agency and in the juvenile court system.

    Golbert will oversee the office's 206 employees and a $21.9 million annual budget. The office acts as attorney and guardian for about 6,000 state wards in abuse and neglect proceedings as well as custody and divorce proceedings.

    The public guardian also acts as the court-appointed guardian of adults with disabilities or their estates. The division manages about $100 million in estate assets and recovers stolen assets for clients.

    "The public guardian and the attorneys in the office play a very important role for some of our most vulnerable residents — adults with disabilities and abused or neglected children," Evans said in a statement Wednesday. "They speak for those who cannot speak for themselves, and they are dedicated advocates in the justice system."

    Starting Monday, Evans will begin accepting applications for a permanent replacement for the position.

    "While I will seek a permanent leader for the office, I am pleased to name Charles Golbert as the acting public guardian," Evans said. "I also want to thank Robert Harris for his service. I certainly welcome Robert to the judicial ranks, but his leadership and advocacy will be missed."

    Full Article & Source:
    Chief judge names acting public guardian for Cook County

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    Someone I loved very deeply was the victim of abuse by the Probate Court, which destroyed her whole life and precipitated her premature death.

    The judge has sole control of guardianship. Guardianship is a dictatorship.

    I met Gretchen in the mid 1980s. We started dating in 1998. Around 2000 she developed Parkinson’s disease. By the end of 2008 she also had dementia. I took care of her at home so she would not have to go into a nursing home.

    I filed a petition for guardianship in 2011. Since it was a contested case, the court appointed a Guardian ad Litem (GAL) and temporary professional guardian as “disinterested” parties.

    My first attorney negotiated a temporary agreement signed by all parties under which I would continue to manage Gretchen’s daily care and finances.

    All of Gretchen’s doctors said she should stay at home under my care. In July 2012 the guardian put Gretchen into a nursing home while I was away on vacation, without prior notice.

    I should explain: I was planning on going to dance camp with Gretchen as we had done every year for many years. The professional guardian refused to allow Gretchen to go, on the grounds that it would not be safe because of her Parkinson’s and the rustic nature of the camp. She demanded that I go by myself. I have a letter from the camp manager saying that the camp is handicapped accessible. People no longer able to dance are welcome to come to be with their long-time friends.

    Gretchen’s daughter had wanted to put Gretchen into a nursing home so she could live in her house. That was what triggered the petition for guardianship. Gretchen did not have a lawyer at the time.

    Gretchen’s son did not want her in a nursing home. However, he supported the plan to put Gretchen into a nursing home “temporarily” so I could be removed from Gretchen’s house with a restraining order. That’s what happended while I was away. Then the guardian double crossed Gretchen’s son by keeping her in the nursing home permanently.

    When I returned from vacation, the GAL and professional guardian got a restraining order preventing me from visiting Gretchen in the nursing home. Without court authority, the guardian removed Gretchen from my care.

    At the hearing on the restraining order I testified that none of the complaints in the affidavit for the restraining order were correct. The judge allowed the restraining order that was based entirely on hearsay and double hearsay.

    In the nursing home Gretchen was required to sit in a chair all day. This went directly against the advice of Gretchen’s neurologists who said she needed to stay as physically and socially active as possible or she would go downhill.

    Despite her Parkinson’s, Gretchen was very physically active. She loved all kinds of dancing. The picture on page one is from a vintage dance.

    We went ballroom dancing a few nights a week. Gretchen went for daily walks (weather permitting), especially around the lake near her house. She went to the movies, visited with friends and relatives, worked out at the health club, went to dance events and dance camps. Her doctors said her condition was approximately stable.

    Within weeks after being placed in the nursing home, Gretchen had lost the ability to walk on her own. Gretchen’s son and his wife filed strong complaints with the guardian regarding Gretchen’s inactivity and rapid decline. The guardian hired an attorney (paid for out of Gretchen’s estate) and instructed them not to communicate with her except through her attorney.

    My first attorney was being treated for cancer and unable to continue on the case. I hired a high-level Elder Law attorney. I asked him to file a complaint with the court regarding Gretchen’s lack of proper care. He told me we had to work through the GAL and the temporary professional guardian. The guardian ignored the complaints by my attorney.

    Gretchen’s daughter-in-law (Reference 1) says Gretchen was being drugged in the nursing home. This was unnecessary, harmful, and can be fatal. Gretchen’s condition continued to deteriorate. In December 2012, Gretchen’s son and his wife filed a blistering complaint with the court asking for the removal of the guardian. The judge did nothing.

    In late December 2012 Gretchen suffered an unexplained incident in the nursing home. Her left wrist and left angle were swollen. Gretchen’s doctor at Lahey Clinic recommended physical therapy for her ankle. The guardian denied treatment, citing the DNR [Do Not Resuscitate] and other statements in Gretchen’s HCP [Health Care Proxy].

    The swelling in her wrist healed fairly quickly. The ankle never healed. Gretchen spent the rest of her life in a wheelchair. The total lack of activity accelerated her decline.

    By the time of the trial in February 2013, Gretchen was terminal. At a special session during the trial I testified that there was no valid evidence in the affidavit for the restraining order. The GAL and guardian offered no evidence to support the restraining order. The judge ordered the records of the restraining order sealed to protect my reputation.

    The judge did nothing about the misconduct by the GAL and professional guardian. The guardian put Gretchen on hospice care about a week after the trial without notice to the parties. Gretchen died a few months after the trial.

    I requested recordings of all the hearings in order to file a complaint. My testimony regarding the false restraining order and misconduct by the GAL and guardian was missing. According to the Office of the Chief Justice of the Probate Court, there is no evidence this testimony was ever given.

    Reference 1.


    The Office of the Chief Justice told me there is a bill (S.1177/H.3027) before the Massachusetts Legislature proposed by advocates for the elderly. The purpose of the bill is to provide guardianship services to “unbefriended” people.

    Unbefriended people are very vulnerable. They have no one to complain to if they are subjected to abuse. Any system for providing guardianship services to the unbefriended needs to have ironclad protections against abuse.

    This bill gives immunity to guardians. Guardians are already given immunity by judges of the Probate Court. Regardless of the intent of immunity, the result has been to create a system of legalized crime where guardians commit crimes with impunity.

    Other health care providers have to carry liability insurance. Conservators have to be bonded. Guardians should have liability insurance, not immunity.

    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. It is a dictatorship.

     I have attempted to rewrite the bill in a way that makes maximum use of the 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., to prevent the abuse of power (Reference 2).

    Reference 2.


    by Patti Burke Plante

    Gretchen was definitely drugged at the nursing home immediately.

    This experience was terrible and made our family lose trust in the system. It was unbelievable what the courts get away with. They make you feel guilty for fighting for your loved one’s care.

    They “say” they are here to help, but feed on the family that are not getting along and pit family members against each other.

    The guardian in our case was terrible and there was no recourse. When we complained or brought up concerns about Gretchen’s care, she got her own lawyer (paid for by Gretchen’s estate) and we could only communicate with the guardian through her lawyer.

    This was a long battle and at the last day of court we were told that it was not about Gretchen’s best interest, it was about the law.

     I could go on and on, but the bottom line is that this system is definitely broken and something needs to be done.

    A bill or act to give these people more power is just ridiculous!

    Full Article & Source:
    The Horrors of Court-Appointed Guardianship – Gretchen’s Shortened Life

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    There are many goals to consider in elder-law estate planning. They include transferring assets to beneficiaries on death with the least amount of costs, taxes and legal fees, while avoiding family conflicts and possible legal battles. Another possible concern is keeping assets in your own bloodline, protected from children’s divorces, lawsuits and creditors. Planning also allows people you choose to be in charge of your affairs if you’re incapacitated, avoids a costly guardianship proceeding that allows a judge to appoint a legal guardian for you, and protects assets from nursing home costs.

    Trusts are often preferable to wills to avoid a court proceeding on death called probate, save time and money and reduce the chance of family conflict over the inheritance. Wills are used in probate court.

    Basic principles guide the process of creating an elder-law estate plan.

    First, understanding family dynamics is key. Standard questions reveal necessary information. How old are you? How is your health? How many children do you have? Are you married? If you are not married and have no children, are your parents alive, or do you have any siblings, nieces or nephews?

    Who will receive the inheritance and how? Do you have disabled beneficiaries on government benefits? Are you disinheriting anyone? Do you want to leave outright distributions of assets to your beneficiaries, or do you want them to receive assets over time?

    Second, a review of current estate-planning documents reveals whether your current goals are being met. Maybe your current plan is adequate, or maybe it needs to be tweaked, or maybe it would be better to start anew. Are you expecting to receive an inheritance that would change your goals or create estate tax issues? Do you have long-term care insurance, and if so, what are the details of your benefits? If you don’t have long-term care insurance, a Medicaid asset protection trust may be needed to protect assets from nursing home costs after five years.

    Third comes a review of the assets. The asset list includes each asset you own, how each asset is titled and its value. Possible asset categories include real estate, vehicles, bank accounts, retirement funds, other investments, life insurance, annuities, business interests and anything else of value.

    Fourth is the development of the elder-law estate plan. Who will make medical decisions for you in case of incapacity? Who will be your trustee, executor and power of attorney? Who will serve as backups in these different roles in case the first choices are unavailable? You choose people you trust who will make a smooth transition on disability or death.

    Fifth, review the plan at least every three years to see if changes in the law or your life mean the plan needs adjusting. You want the plan to work not only when you create it but years later when you need it.

    Bonnie Kraham is an attorney practicing elder law estate planning with Ettinger Law Firm, 75 Crystal Run Road in the Town of Wallkill. She can be reached at 845-692-8700, ext. 119 or This column is intended to provide general information, not legal advice.

    Full Article & Source:
    Bonnie Kraham: Guiding principles of an elder-law estate plan

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