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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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    EUSTIS, Fla. - Eustis police arrested a 93-year-old woman accused of trespassing after the independent living facility in which she lived reported that she has refused to pay rent for the past three months.

    Juanita Fitzgerald, 93, has a birthday coming up Friday. She was held in the Lake County Jail on a $500 bond and has been there since Tuesday. Fitzgerald was released Thursday on her own recognizance, a Lake County Sheriff's Office spokesman said.

    Fitzgerald did not have to pay bond but must appear for a Dec. 27 court appearance, officials said.

    Karen Twinem, with National Church Residences, which owns the Franklin House where Fitzgerald has lived since April 2011, said Fitzgerald told the staff she held back the rent because she thought she was going to die soon.

    Twinem also confirmed that Fitzgerald also had complained about having mold in her apartment, but said the facility had her apartment tested and no mold was found.

    Twinem said officials contacted the 93-year-old woman’s family several times to try to get her help and even reached out to several agencies, including the Homeless Coalition, LiveStream Behavior Center, the United Way of Lake County, Family and Children’s Services of Lake County, the Area Agency on Aging and several other apartments and transitional housing programs. Twinem said Fitzgerald refused all the assistance offered.

    “I feel like everything was done that could possibly be done to help her I feel a lot of this was brought on herself,” Franklin House resident Terri Goldberg said of Fitzgerald.

    Court papers describe how Fitzgerald resisted the eviction every step of the way
    When Eustis police officers arrived at the Franklin House, located at 2400 Kurt St., they met with Lake County deputies inside the front lobby and Fitzgerald was there, according to court papers.

    The report states that, on the previous day, Fitzgerald was made well-aware that she would be evicted and was asked several times to leave the property and told she could no longer stay there.

    Fitzgerald refused to get her belongings and leave and said, “Unless you carry me out of here, I’m not going anywhere,” according to the affidavit.

    As officers attempted to escort her out of the building, she intentionally slid out of her chair and onto the floor and resisted when officers tried to pick her up, the report said.

    The affidavit states officers were able to safely escort her out of the building into the rear of a patrol car. Due to her age, officers transported Fitzgerald without handcuffs to reduce the risk of injury.

    “This is extremely rare,” said Twinem, who said National Church Residences runs 340 properties. “We try to find places for people.”

    News 6 investigator Adrianna Iwasinski asked for a jailhouse interview with Fitzgerald on Wednesday and was granted her request.

    Dressed in an orange jail jumpsuit, with bruises on her arms and handcuffs around her wrists, Fitzgerald denied the allegations that she didn't pay rent because she thought she was going to die soon.

    "I don't have anybody. My family is in Tennessee and I told them not to tell my son anything that's going on," she said.

    Fitzgerald also said she tried to pay rent in October and was refused. She said the Franklin House offered her assistance and tried to find her another home, but she refused and she has refused help from her own family.

    "I don't want them to help me. I don't need no help. I've got all the help I need," Fitzgerald said pointing to the sky.

    Fitzgerald will not spend her 94th birthday in jail, but will be staying with a friend after leaving the Lake County Detention Center.

    Full Article & Source:
    Woman, 93, arrested for not paying rent

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

    Join Marti Oakley, Luanne Fleming, Carly Walden, Brian Kinter, Randal Stone, Gloria Helman, Debbie Carrol as we broadcast the last show of 2017 on TS Radio.

    This will be recap of the year and what we hope to achieve in 2018.

    TS Radio will be back after January 1, 2018 hopefully rested and refreshed and ready to continue the battle for families. Merry Christmas to all!

    LISTEN LIVE or listen to the archive later

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    DEER LODGE — An Anaconda woman pleaded not guilty in Deer Lodge district court this week to felony exploitation of an elderly man.

    Sherri Smith, 50, is accused of influencing an 86-year-old Deer Lodge man to extract at least $6,747 from him between July 2015 and May 2017 while presenting herself as an unofficial caregiver and friend. She allegedly worked around the house and spent time with him and tried to force out his hired caregiver but was rebuffed.

    According to court records, Smith would take the man from the Senior Center to the bank to get money and then return to the center. Frontier Home Health service workers allegedly found receipts for cigarettes — the man doesn’t smoke — and for groceries not in his house.

    On May 24, 2017, Smith allegedly called the man to bail her out of the Anaconda jail. Even though his eyesight is bad and he stated he should not drive, he drove to Anaconda to bail her out.

    Bank representatives also reported numerous checks written on his account to various businesses until the man was allegedly unable to pay his bills, lost his phone and TV service, and was threatened with foreclosure.

    Smith is free on $7,000 bond pending further court proceedings. If found guilty, she could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison and fined up to $10,000.

    Full Article & Source:
    Anaconda woman pleads not guilty to bilking elderly man

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    A woman accused of exploiting and neglecting the elderly and disabled residents of licensed and unlicensed person care homes in Augusta backed out of a plea deal Friday morning, firing her attorney and waiving her demand for a speedy trial.
    Margaret Dale Freeman, 60, was scheduled to stand trial Monday in Richmond County Superior Court on a 26-count criminal indictment that stemmed from one of the first cases pursued by the new personal care home task force, Crimes Against the Vulnerable and Elderly.

    After a pretrial hearing Thursday, Freeman was prepared to accept a plea deal - 12 years in prison followed by life on probation - that was set to expire Friday. The sentencing hearing was set for Friday morning.

    But Freeman told Judge John Flythe on Friday morning that while she considered attorney Charles Rollins a friend, she believed it was in her best interested to waive her right to a speedy trial and hire another attorney to present her side of the case.

    “I apologize for any inconvenience to the court,” Freeman said. She has been held in jail since her Oct. 1 arrest.

    District Attorney Natalie Paine protested that both sides had worked diligently to prepare for the trial set to begin Monday. The prosecution had more than 50 witnesses under subpoena. Several other people who have been in jail months and even years had their cases postponed so Freeman’s speedy trial demand could be honored, Paine said. She wanted assurance that Friday’s action wasn’t intended to just delay the trial.

    Flythe said he understood, but Freeman had released her defense attorney and she should not be forced to represent herself next week.

    Freeman was charged with the exploitation and neglect of elderly and disabled residents who lived in one licensed personal care home, Joshua House 3, and several other houses prosecutors contend were unlicensed personal care homes.

    She is charged with 15 counts of neglect of a disabled adult, two counts of exploitation of a disabled adult, four felony counts of operating an unlicensed personal care home, one misdemeanor count of operating an unlicensed personal care home, and four counts of misdemeanor obstruction of an investigation.

    Full Article & Source:
    Woman accused of exploitation, neglect backs out of plea deal

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    by Lisa Siegel Belanger, Esq.

    From the Boston Broadside’s 4-part series, ISOLATE, MEDICATE, LIQUIDATE: HOW TO FLEECE A SENIOR, subscribers and readers may be aware of my family’s personal 5-year and continuing travesty of justice inflicted by public officials of the Massachusetts Probate & Family Court. For those who are not, my family’s personal pursuit of justice involves the unlawful and literal seizure of my elderly father and his estate by the Commonwealth.

    My article, entitled “Message to Citizens: Wake Up!” as published in the October 2017 edition of the Boston Broadside, alerts citizens that my family’s travesty is not an isolated incident but rather is a poster-child for what is happening to other families on a daily basis within the Massachusetts Probate & Family Courts.

    In no uncertain terms, what has happened to my family is business as usual in the Massachusetts Probate & Family Courts and that all families are targets—it runs the full gambit from the poor to the wealthy.

    The focus of this article is to alert citizens that all Massachusetts families need to be fearsome of Governor Charlie Baker’s outright disregard of known, established lawlessness by long-time public officials and his blatantly direct influence in having attorneys whom he has full knowledge of not just having acted lawlessly but actually having committed and continuing to commit elder exploitation through the Probate & Family Court system.

    Two of those “politically-connected” attorneys are: Democrats Marsha V. Kazarosian of Kazarosian Costello, LLP, and Thomas J. Barbar, principal of Deutsch Williams Brooks Derensis & Holland, P.C.

    Marsha Kazarosian – Facebook Photo

    Thomas Barbar – new judge (his husband must be proud)

    As described in Boston Broadside’s 4-part series, ISOLATE, MEDICATE, LIQUIDATE: HOW TO FLEECE A SENIOR, Thomas Barbar, Esq. represented the court-appointed guardian (Brian T. Cuffe, Esq. of Topsfield) and the court-appointed conservator (James E. Feld, Esq. of Woburn) in the Probate Court matters involving guardianship and conservatorship of my father, Marvin Siegel, from November of 2013 until this November of 2017. Marsha Kazarosian, Esq. has been counsel of record for my father since August 17, 2011.

    Within a mere three months of my father having hired Attorney Kazarosian, he personally faxed a written demand terminating her legal representation of him. Marsha Kazarosian deliberately and connivingly refused to withdraw as legal counsel—despite her having filed an attestation on August 17, 2011 expressly stating that my father, as her client, was fully competent. In fact, the very purpose for Attorney Kazarosian having filed that attestation was to inform the Probate Court that she should be allowed to represent my father as private counsel so as to oust the then-existing fraudulent attorneys of record—Edward Tarlow and Al DeNapoli of Tarlow Breed Hart & Rodgers P.C.

    As a direct result of years of flagrant judicial lawlessness exhibited by the Essex Probate & Family Court and the Massachusetts appellate courts regarding the specific guardianship and conservatorship over my father, on February 12, 2015 I filed a federal civil action based on the Racketeer Influenced & Corrupt Organizations Act (otherwise commonly known as RICO) as a private citizen and as an attorney—practicing for almost 20 years at that time. The case is identified as: Belanger et al. v. BNY Mellon, et al. and under Docket No. 1:15-cv-10198-ADB.

    With respect to the civil RICO action, I set forth voluminous court documentation irrefutably establishing specified public officials’ acts of physical abuse, embezzlement, and money laundering—along with specifying private attorneys who are aiding and abetting these public officials. As the public can see for themselves through full access to the RICO complaint and exhibits, I prove that physical abuse, embezzlement, and money laundering directly stem from a long-embedded racketeering enterprise within the Massachusetts Probate & Family Court system.

     I have created a website called that provides full access for the public to personally review this civil RICO complaint with all corresponding exhibits. Marsha Kazarosian, Esq. and Thomas Barbar, Esq. are named in that RICO action, with very detailed factual accounts of their unlawful conduct—which they have not once denied or refuted. As I have provided truthful and irrefutable substantiation for my claims, their one repeated manner of response consists only of false and defamatory personal attacks against me.

     Since March of 2015, Governor Charlie Baker has had full knowledge and possession of the copied complaint and corresponding exhibits. On February 28, 2015, I sent via priority mail a package containing a paper copy of the civil RICO complaint and six CDs containing the exhibits directly addressed to Governor Baker at his official State House office—the complaint explicitly and extensively calls attention to Marsha Kazarosian, Esq. and Thomas Barbar, Esq. I have proof of this material being received on Governor Baker’s behalf.

    In that package directly addressed to Governor Baker, I provided a cover letter explicitly explaining the significance of the RICO action and how it directly relates to specified public officials and private attorneys exploiting elders, and irrefutable documentation of the systemic criminal enterprise within the Massachusetts Probate & Family Court organization. (A copy of the cover letter is viewable at

     At least six weeks passed without my receiving any type of response from Governor Baker or any of his agents/representatives; so, I personally called Governor Baker’s Office and spoke with an aide, who informed me that Governor Baker “cannot get involved in pending litigation.”  Such response would appear reasonable to a non-lawyer and, therefore, I explained to the aide the legal principles and reasons that actually require Governor Baker to address unlawful conduct committed by public officials acting under a governor’s auspices. I reiterated to Governor Baker’s aide the inherent obligation for a governor to enforce oversight and accountability.

    Needless to say, that fell on Governor Baker’s proverbial deaf ears, as it repeatedly has with the Office of Bar Counsel, Board of Bar Overseers, the Judicial Conduct Commission, the Committee for Public Counsel Services, the State Attorney General’s Office, State Auditor’s Office, and other enforcement agencies.

    Then the unthinkable happened. Despite the explicit misconduct of Attorney Marsha Kazarosian being placed smack dab in Governor Baker’s face, in February of 2016 he appointed Attorney Kazarosian to the very commission that nominates the judges who preside in the state’s highest court—the Supreme Judicial Court.

    In the published announcement by the Massachusetts Bar Association as to Governor Baker’s appointment of Attorney Kazarosian to the highest court nominating commission, MBA Chief Legal Counsel Martin Healy stated:

    Governor Baker’s appointment of this special commission demonstrates that he fully grasps the weight of this historic opportunity to change the makeup of the commonwealth’s top court.

    It can’t get much more ironic, considering Governor Baker—self-proclaimed Republican—appointed a flashing neon Democrat to be placed in a position of influencing who gets seated as our state’s top court’s judges.

    When all is said and done, We The People are the ones who pay the highest and dearest costs for these political shams. The 6-page state public record of reported political donations made by Attorney Kazarosian shows that she did not openly donate any money to any GOP candidate—not even to Charlie Baker. Instead, the 6-page report reads like a Democrat roll-call: Deval Patrick, Maura Healey, Tim Murray, Sal DiMasi, Robert DeLeo, Thomas Finneran, Martha Coakley, Thomas O’Reilly, Democartic Senate PAC and other various Democrat minions.

    Now we have some sunlight showing why Governor Baker is a Never-Trumper—his philosophy proves to be: build a bigger and dirtier swamp. It is also evident that what Martin Healy really meant by change is the goal to deepen the liberal swamp, not make a change towards conservatism. Gee, the fact that Attorney Kazarosian was just a recent past president of the Massachusetts Bar Association would in no way bias Martin Healy as Chief Legal Counsel for the Massachusetts Bar Association.

    Governor Baker continues to get his hand more and more soiled. As a result of grave and surmounting misconduct that has transpired since the time of the filing of the 2015 RICO complaint, I reported the new and compounding information to Governor Baker on December 1, 2016. I did so by faxing a formal complaint to his direct attention. This updated information also showed interrelated misconduct involving Thomas Barbar, Esq., as well.

    In addition to Governor Baker, I also faxed the December 1, 2016 formal complaint separately and individually to: Karen Polito, Lt. Governor; Lon Povitch, Governor’s Chief Legal Counsel; and Sharon Shelfer Casey, Executive Director & Deputy Legal Counsel for the Supreme Judicial Court Nominating Commission.

    I presume that people will not be surprised or shocked to know that I still have not received a response from Governor Baker or his agent/representative. 

    I am a believer in the old adage of never say things cannot get worse. Yes, it does because despite my presenting Governor Baker, on multiple occasions, with hard cold facts of Attorneys Marsha Kazarosian and Thomas Barbar engaging in the exploitation of my 89-year-old father, in late August of 2017 Governor Baker nominated Thomas Barbar, Esq. to sit as a Probate & Family Court judge in Middlesex County.  Within two months he was approved by the Governor’s Council. Talk about having the fox watch the hen house! 

    Readers may reply with comments to: In addition, I have formally commenced a class action investigation regarding exploitation by court-appointed guardians and/or court-appointed conservators within the Massachusetts Probate & Family Courts. If you have experienced this, please help #ShineTheLight by providing information at:

    Full Article & Source:
    Governor Charlie Baker ‘Deepens and Widens the Democrat-Filled Judiciary with Influences of Known, Documented Perpetrators of Elder Exploitation’

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    Click to Listen
    Many seniors and adults with a disability or illness come under the care of a guardian, who manages their assets. How can you be certain a guardian is acting in the best interest of your loved one when making decisions about finances and care? Approximately 10 percent of people over 65 are subject to elder abuse, and persons with disabilities are at a higher risk of abuse and neglect than the general population.

    Here to discuss adult guardianship and protections for your family members are National Master Guardian Emeritus and retired Director of the Central Ohio Area Agency on Aging's Volunteer Guardian Program Julia Nack; Disability Rights Ohio Executive Director Michael Kirkman; the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Service Department for Aging and Independent Living Division of Guardianship Assistant Director Jessica Wayne; and Pro Seniors Managing Attorney Miriam Sheline.

    Full Article & Source:
    Rights And Protections Under Adult Guardianship

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    Kristine and Shawn Stead
    Young people with disabilities are living longer, more independent lives. Advocates for them say it's time to update guardianship laws to create more choices for them.

    By Taylor Knopf

    Adults with disabilities are leading longer lives thanks to advances in medicine and technology and where once people with disabilities died young, now a good number will likely outlive their parents. But many of those parents have been the guardians for their children, providing guidance, security and steering their every move.

    Advocates for guardianship alternatives believe that supporting this population to live more independently would be best for everyone in the long run. In North Carolina, they’re getting ready to introduce legislation to update how guardianship is done for many.

    “Demographically we know there are a lot of adults with disabilities whose elderly parents have been their primary caregivers and, in many cases, guardians,” said Corye Dunn, a Disability Rights NC lawyer.

    “Our system is not prepared to have all those folks dumped into public guardianships over the next decade.”

    Advocates with Rethinking Guardianship are eyeing the 2019 “long” legislative session to introduce reforms to North Carolina’s guardianship laws.

    The group is already collaborating with county clerks of court — those are the people responsible for guardianship cases proceeding in North Carolina — to talk about needed changes and draft new policy.

    Guardianship is a legal process where the court takes away the rights of adults found to be “incompetent.” A guardian is given the right to make that person’s decision for them; if a guardian dies, the guardianship is usually given over to the local Department of Social Services which then becomes the public guardian.
    a young man stands in front of a wall with a hockey stick, posters and other memorabila on shelves, his parents ahve guardianship over him
    Shawn Stead standing in his room at his parents’ home. Photo credit: Taylor Knopf
    In North Carolina, different types of guardianship are obtained for a variety of reasons.

    There are many senior citizens with a guardian. Maybe a widowed grandmother is getting older and someone needs to make healthcare and housing decisions for her. So her son applies for  guardianship to help make those decisions.

    Then there is Kristine Stead in Garner. Her son Shawn was hit by a truck when he was 11 and suffered a traumatic brain injury which impacts his decision-making abilities. When Shawn turned 18, it was clear he wouldn’t join the workforce and live independently right away.

    Kristine Stead is one of many parents in North Carolina who has sought and secured a type of guardianship over her child. Many parents choose this option so they can protect their child. Stead said she wanted guardianship of Shawn mainly for any medical need that might arise.

    On the other hand, there’s Janie Desmond, a 25-year-old woman from Durham who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, severe visual impairment and mild intellectual disability as a child. Instead of seeking guardianship, her parents support her in other ways so she can live independently in her own apartment and make choices through supported decision making.

    The group Rethinking Guardianship — a group made up of clerks of court, civil rights lawyers, university experts, state health and human services staff, and other disability advocates — is working to improve North Carolina’s guardianship process and help people think about alternatives.
    shows a young woman in a wheelchair standing with two older men and an older woman. The bill will make it easier for parents who have guardianship of their children to sav for their future
    FIFNC Executive Director Betsy MacMichael with daughter Janie Desmond, former Governor Pat McCrory and Senator Richard Burr at the 2015 signing of the ABLE Act. The law makes it easier for parents to save for their children without financial penalty. Photo courtesy of FIFNC Facebook page.
    “Our guardianship laws are dated,” said Dunn, who is also a member of Rethinking Guardianship. She said that many people see it as something normal, like a legally generated service, rather than “a limit on the liberties of people with disabilities.”

    There’s also a growing movement challenging parents to move away from guardianship and think about other ways to support their children with disabilities. Some advocates say that in order for an adult with disabilities to mature toward independence, they must be given the freedom to make their own decisions and mistakes, the same way young adults without disabilities learn.

    Gaining support

    The Rethinking Guardianship workgroup formed three years ago with a grant from the NC Council on Developmental Disabilities. The group is facilitated by NC Department of Aging and Adult Services in partnership with the UNC School of Social Work Jordan Institute for Families.

    After years of research and discussion, the group is ready to reach out to the broader group of stakeholders.

    Linda Kendall Fields, a clinical assistant professor at UNC Chapel Hill’s School of Social Work, facilitates the workgroup drafting reforms for the general statute on guardianship.
    Shows a woman smiling at the camera.
    Linda Kendall Fields, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Jordan Institute for Families, courtesy of Facebook.
    “My job is to make sure we involve everyone,” she said. “We want to work through 2018 to have listening sessions and dialogue […] We want everyone to pick [the drafted legislation] apart and put it back together.”

    Fields said there should be no surprises for anyone when a bill is introduced in 2019.

    This type of stakeholder input is important for many kinds of industry-specific legislation. When legislative reforms are introduced at the statehouse, it tends to work best if the bill has been vetted by all affected stakeholders.

    For instance, mental health advocates tried in vain for years to get legislation passed that would raise the age a person is considered a juvenile in the North Carolina court system to 18. But sheriffs came out against the bill every time it was introduced. So advocates worked with law enforcement officers to find compromise language they felt comfortable with. The legislation finally passed earlier this year when they gave their support.

    Similarly, guardianship reform will likely need the support of the clerks of court to gain traction.

    “This is intended to be a consensus effort,” Dunn said. “We want all the folks who will have to carry out the changes to be on board.”

    In North Carolina, guardianship hearings happen at the county court level and, well into the computer age, they all still use paper records. That makes it difficult to know the exact number of guardianships across the state’s 100 counties.

    “Even though we all read the same statute and attend the same classes, each clerk is different in how they handle guardianship matters,” said Terri Lawson, Catawba County assistant clerk of court.
    Shows a woman, sitting in the drivers seat of a car, looking at the camera and smiling. The photo looks like a selfie.
    Catawba County Assistant Clerk of Court Terri Lawson, courtesy of LinkedIn.
    “I feel that if they were a part of the Rethinking Guardianship initiative, then they would view guardianship matters differently,” Lawson added. “I was not aware of a lot of things until I joined the group years ago. It really opened my eyes. I wish more clerks would look at guardianships differently.”

    Rethinking Guardianship conducted a pilot project in Catawba County viewing guardianship files from the past two and a half years to better understand what guardianship looks like in North Carolina.

    Fields said the data is a helpful benchmark.

    ‘Presumption of permanence’

    The group is also working to educate everyone involved, including the school system and pediatricians who routinely send out form letters to all families with a disabled child, urging guardianship when the child is about to turn 18, no matter the level of independence.

    “We want to eliminate the presumption of permanence with guardianship,” Fields said. “There should be periodic checks to see if people are treated fairly and see if their capacity has changed.”

    Lawson, the assistant clerk, said she has started that review process for many of her guardianship cases in Catawba.

    “I want the guardians to always be looking toward restoration,” she said. “There are some that may actually regain [their rights] and others that are certain they will always need [a guardian].”

    Dunn said the goal is to give clerks of court clear factors to consider when they are deciding how frequently they should review a case.

    “If someone was ruled incompetent because of an injury, say TBI, you may want to revisit that sooner rather than a dementia case,” she said.

    Dunn said she would also like to see the system move away from full guardianship as a default position. There are different forms are partial guardianship and alternatives, such as creating a natural support network of trusted life advisors — a cousin they can go to with car troubles or a friend who’s a nurse and can advise on healthcare decisions.

    Another way to improve the guardianship process and move toward rights restoration is more education on mental illness, developmental disabilities and injuries.

    “There needs to be better training available for everyone in this system,” Dunn said.

    There is little education on specific medical diagnoses for clerks of court and guardians ad litem, who are court appointed representatives for the person guardianship is being sought over.

    Curbing abuse

    Fields said there are unfortunate stories of people being abused by a guardian.

    “Abuse often crops up in a human system when one person has the power and others are vulnerable,” she said.

    Lawson said the court is not required to follow up with guardianship cases, but she thinks guardians should always be held accountable.

    If someone suspects guardianship abuse, they can file a report with the county Department of Social Services. It’s the responsibility of DSS to file a motion with the clerk of court to request a hearing on the issue, Lawson said.

    But if DSS is already the guardian, that can be tricky.

    These are all issues the Rethinking Guardianship workgroup will explore with interested parties over the next year.

    Full Article & Source:
    Guardianship Reform on Tap in the North Carolina Legislature

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    ST. PAUL, Minn. - Governor Mark Dayton announced Tuesday that the Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Health is resigning – effective immediately.

    Dr. Edward Ehlinger had headed the department since 2011.

    Ehlinger’s resignation comes in the wake of charges that the department has failed to properly investigate reports of abuse and neglect in senior care facilities.

    Since May, KARE 11 has been investigating complaints from families that state investigators left them in the dark about – or failed to investigate – complaints about their loved ones.

    “Why are we continuing to hear about the abuse neglect and harm to our senior population?” State Senator Karin Housley (R-St. Mary’s) asked last week during a news conference.

    Flanked by other lawmakers, she demanded an investigation of Department of Health leadership after reports the state was mishandling complaints.

    In one case, KARE 11 described how workers had been caught on video verbally abusing and threatening a patient with dementia.

    In another, an elderly woman was sexually assaulted by an aide who was supposed to help her.

    But KARE 11’s investigation discovered that, too often, the state doesn’t even investigate complaints.

    Records obtained by KARE 11 showed how care facility workers left Mary Cleary for 19 hours with two broken legs before they sent her to the hospital.

    “They laid me there and I didn’t have anything really that I could do except cry and yell,” she told her family in a cell phone video before her death.

    The state closed that case without even doing an investigation. Records show it was just one of thousands of reports the state failed to investigate.

    In 2016, the state received more than 24,000 reports of abuse and neglect. But records reveal Ihe vast majority of them – more than 23,000 – were never fully investigated.

    In a statement released after the resignation announcement, Senator Housley said: "While the resignation of Commissioner Ehlinger is a step forward, there is much work to do to restore the trust of the most vulnerable Minnesotans.”

    Governor Dayton named Health Department Deputy Commissioner Dan Pollock acting Commissioner until a permanent replacement is selected.

    Several weeks ago, the Governor ordered that the Minnesota Department of Human Services’ Office of the Inspector General provide the Health Department assistance in improving the management of its investigations of elder neglect and abuse.

    Full Article & Source:
    Investigates: MN Health Commissioner abruptly resigns

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    Maine seniors lost about $28 million to financial exploitation between 2010 and 2016, most often perpetrated by grown children and grandchildren, according to a new report.

    The report, released Tuesday by Legal Services for the Elderly and Maine’s Office of Aging and Disability Services, is the first to document the costs associated with the financial exploitation of Maine’s elderly population, according to a news release announcing the report.

    The loss was projected even higher, at $74 million, when the compiled data were used to reflect losses experienced across all elderly victims of exploitation, not just those who sought help.

    The report, produced by the University of Southern Maine’s Muskie School of Public Service, found that in more than 60 percent of reported abuse cases, the perpetrator was the victim’s adult child. The victims were more likely to be 80 or older, female and either widowed, single or divorced, the study found.

    “These are ordinary Mainers,” Jaye Martin, executive director of Legal Services for the Elderly, said in the release. “They have worked hard to pay their homes off and always paid their bills on time. 

    You can’t imagine the incredible devastation when someone has their life savings stolen — and there are quite a large number who have had their homes stolen — by someone they know and love.”

    After a relative, the next most likely perpetrators were caregivers, family friends or neighbors, the report found.

    The report analyzed 205 cases handled by Legal Services for the Elderly, which provides legal representation to victims of exploitation, and 459 cases handled by Maine’s Adult Protective Services, which serves victims of abuse, neglect and exploitation who are incapacitated or dependent.

    In the legal services’ cases, the most common reported problem was the loss of a house, followed by the diversion of cash and the withdrawal of funds from a bank account. For victims under the care of adult protective services, the three top reported financial problems were the diversion of cash, followed by failure to pay for nursing facility services and the withdrawal of money from bank accounts.

    Martin on Tuesday urged more funding for legal service providers, police and prosecutors to better prevent the financial exploitation of Maine’s elderly.

    Full Article & Source:
    Maine’s elderly lost $28M to financial exploitation — mostly by their grown children

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    Frustrated by shortcomings it has identified in elder-abuse investigations, Pennsylvania is trying to take a harder line with county agencies that were tasked with fielding nearly 30,000 complaints last year.

    The Department of Aging is starting to grade counties on a more aggressive compliance schedule after telling some they had failed, sometimes repeatedly, to meet regulations and expectations on how complaints must be handled.

    Among the shortcomings identified by state inspectors were failures to show investigations had started within the timeframe dictated by state law and inadequately investigating a complaint and logging the casework, according to documents reviewed by The Associated Press.

    Those documents were among hundreds of pages of records obtained by the AP through requests to the Department of Aging, which inspects the performance of 52 county-level agencies tasked with fielding and responding to complaints that can involve physical abuse, self-neglect or financial exploitation.

    The perceived shortcomings have raised questions from state inspectors as to whether people were left in danger, and warnings have included orders to immediately investigate a complaint.

    A county now could have as little as four months to improve what is called protective services for people who are 60 and older before it loses the responsibility.

    "At four months, we should start to know whether we'll need to have another entity to take over protective services for that county," said the department's protective services director, Denise Getgen. "That's a lot quicker than what we've done in the past."

    Pennsylvania's tougher stance comes at a time when many states are dealing with fast-rising caseloads and funding that isn't growing, said Andrew Capehart, of the National Adult Protective Services Association.

    The state's caseworkers handled 29,000 calls about potential elder abuse in the 2016-17 fiscal year, according to department records, a call volume officials say has tripled in recent years and is expected to continue rising as Pennsylvania ages.

    The details of complaints, investigations and the identity of the person whose situation is in question are kept secret, and the state has not disclosed the details of an actual case where someone was harmed by county ineptness.

    Should a county-level agency fall down on the job, Pennsylvania reserves the right to take over the task, or fire it and hire some other agency. It has never done that.

    Some county officials say that the measurements can be subjective, and that protective services can improve with training and additional staff. County officials often blame turnover or staffing issues and contend violations can come down to failing to enter information into a state-monitored database, not failing to properly investigate.

    The new protocol will grade counties: green for good; yellow for significant or repetitive problems; and red for significant or repetitive problems that put someone at risk.

    Four counties have so far been graded under the new system: green for Adams County, yellow for Franklin and Perry counties, and red for Northampton County.

    In a Nov. 1 letter to the Northampton County Area Agency on Aging, the department cited various shortcomings, including one investigator with a caseload more than three times the regulatory limit.

    The agency's administrator, John Mehler, acknowledged his staff had become swamped in recent months and said he had assembled money in the agency's budget to hire a fourth caseworker.

    However, he disputed his agency had left anyone at risk.

    "Are we in compliance with everything the Department of Aging wants? Absolutely not. We certainly have to work to do, we've acknowledged that," Mehler said. "But has anyone been harmed or placed at risk? No, and that's due to the diligence of the three investigators that we have."

    The performance of counties can vary widely. Some receive spotless reviews

    In March, the state ordered Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, which runs Lawrence County's protective services, to take immediate action in 11 active cases.

    In May, the department told Delaware County's Office of Services for the Aging that it failed for five years to fix shortcomings, and a recent review found "multiple older adults reported to be in need of protective services have been left at risk."

    Meanwhile, state funding - the primary source of money for protective services and other programs for the elderly - has remained flat for more than a decade, as protective services demands grow and compete for money with Meals on Wheels, senior activity centers and in-home care.

    In Dauphin County, there are now eight protective services caseworkers, up from three a few years ago.

    "It leaves us where we are today, where everybody at the county level is looking to get a clear idea about what is the direction," said Bob Burns, the director of Dauphin County's Area Agency On Aging. "What are the highest priorities?"

    Full Article & Source:
    Pennsylvania pushes counties to improve elder-abuse casework

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    LAS VEGAS - On Thursday, December 21, Clark County District Court Judge Tierra Jones dismissed without prejudice the majority of 28 year old cerebral palsy victim Jason Hanson's complaint against his Clark County Family Court appointed guardians, trustees, and attorneys.

    Attorneys for Defendants private guardian Jared E. Shafer, attorneys Francis Fine, Elyse Tyrell, and Dara Goldsmith, and Clark County Public Administrator John Cahill, had argued at an earlier hearing that Hanson's case was time barred because he should have filed it when he turned 18 in 2007, not ten years later in 2017 when he first became aware his inheritance was missing.

    Judge Jones agreed with the Defendants, then approved their motion to give them Judicial Immunity because they were all court appointed to care for Hanson by Hearing Master Jon Norheim, an unelected jurist appointed by Family Court Judge Charles Hoskin to help him with his case load. Prior to taking the bench, Norheim was the criminal defense attorney for known mob associate Rick Rizzolo. 
    Judicial Immunity is a form of legal immunity which protects judges and others employed by the judiciary from liability resulting from their judicial actions. 

    Because the case was dismissed without prejudice, it can be reopened in the event new information becomes available. Attorneys for Hanson are considering appealing Judge Jones's decision to the Nevada Supreme Court.


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    Ronnie Rodriguez Coleman
    A state inmate and two women from Huntsville are facing charges for trying to bilk a Limestone County woman out of thousands of dollars.

    Ronnie Rodriguez Coleman, 35, tried to scam the woman from behind bars at the Bibb Correctional Facility in Bibb County, according to the Limestone County Sheriff's Office. It's one of a series of scams the sheriff's office said they have seen in the last few months.

    It started in October, when Coleman somehow discovered the woman had received a death benefit payment of $10,000 after her son died, authorities said. He then called the woman claiming to be a nephew of Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely, they said.

    Coleman told the woman the insurance company had mistakenly deposited $20,000 in her account and needed $10,000 of the money back, authorities said. He told her two women would come to the home to collect the money.

    That's when Constance Hammond and Letia Hammons, both 30, showed up at the home, authorities said.

    Hammond and Hammons convinced the woman to follow them to a check cashing business to write a check, but the business refused to cash the check. A second attempt at the Athens Walmart also was unsuccessful, authorities said, and the two women left.

    Coleman contacted the woman again and tried to get her to buy more than $2,500 in prepaid cell phones and phone cards at the Madison Walmart, but a cashier refused the purchase, according to the sheriff's office.

    A Limestone County Sheriff's Office investigator who handled the case said Hammond and Hammons had purchased Green Dot cards for Coleman, who set up the scam. Coleman admitted it after an interview at the Bibb Correctional Facility, authorities said, and told the investigator several people in prison run similar scams.

    Coleman has served 8 years of a 20-year sentence for manslaughter out of Madison County, according to prison records. He was denied parole earlier this month.

    Hammond and Hammons were both charged with first-degree attempted exploitation of the elderly and criminal impersonation. They have both been released from the Limestone County Jail on bond.

    Full Article & Source:
    Three charged with trying to scam elderly Limestone Co. woman

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    MANTORVILLE — A 59-year-old man was placed on probation for 20 years and ordered to undergo a mental health evaluation after authorities say he spent more than $130,000 of someone else's money.

    Jerry Alan Reis, of Sargeant, pleaded guilty in October to one count of financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult. In exchange, one count of theft was dismissed at Wednesday's sentencing in Dodge County District Court. Both are felonies.

    The investigation began in November 2016, when a woman reported the possible exploitation of a woman in her 90s.

    According to the criminal complaint, the worried woman said Reis had taken over the victim's finances a few months earlier; at the time, her bank accounts contained more than $70,000.

    At the time of the report, however, the elderly woman was "continually having overage fees and returned checks," prompting a review of the accounts.

    Officials found several cash withdrawals made from the accounts, and a "large amount of purchases," the report says.

    It was also discovered that Reis transferred $55,500 from the victim's checking account to his own bank account, and $17,050 from her savings account to his account, the court documents say.

    An advocate for the victim provided a spreadsheet of her bank accounts indicating a total of $134,097.33 was allegedly spent "not benefiting" the woman.

    The total is the combination of "questionable purchases, checks written by Reis and multiple money withdrawals/transfers from (the victim's) accounts," the complaint says.

    The court papers say Reis purchased large amounts — sometimes, hundreds of dollars a day — of "internet tokens from various internet companies," then would transfer the woman's money into his own depleted account.

    The online token purchases were reportedly primarily used for various live pornography internet services; his account at the internet companies had a balance of multiple thousands of dollars.

    Payment of restitution was reserved.

    Full Article & Source:
    Sargeant man sentenced in $130K exploitation of woman

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    Brenda D. Forman
    Broward Clerk of Court Brenda D. Forman has failed in her quest to convince a judge to declare her 71-year-old husband senile and name her as his guardian.

    A committee of three independent examiners concluded that Howard C. Forman “is not incapacitated in any respect,” Judge Mark Speiser determined this month, dismissing the case.

    The order notes that the panel of experts agreed unanimously. The word “unanimously” is emphasized in bold.

    The decision is a victory for Howard Forman, a longtime Broward politician who served as Clerk of Court himself until he retired last year and helped get his now-estranged wife elected to his old job.

    When they met, she was a clerical worker in his office with no political experience, earning $22,000 a year.

    She now earns nearly eight times that and runs a taxpayer-funded office with 750 employees and a $37 million budget.

    The regrettable court fight burst into public view in March, when Howard Forman filed for divorce. The couple had been married for four years. The next day Brenda Forman, 59, counter-punched.

    She told the court her husband may suffer from early-onset dementia, filing a petition to be named his guardian with oversight over his well-being, property and bank accounts.

    The divorce is still pending. Howard Forman’s legal team has argued that she was just trying to stall the divorce and gain control of his $12,000-a-month government pension, Social Security benefits and other assets. She did not immediately return a call for comment Tuesday.

    Howard Forman told the Sun Sentinel he’s relieved by Judge Speiser’s ruling. “I always felt all along that I was competent. I’m glad my examination proved it.”

    The legal battle quickly evolved into a political sideshow, with loyalists divided between the two camps.

    In her campaign, Brenda Forman did not have the backing of the political establishment and capitalized on her husband’s name to win office.

    “That Forman name helped carry me to where I need to be today. I honor my husband,” she told the crowd at her swearing-in ceremony last January, as Howard Forman stood silently next to her. “I love this man.”

    Broward lobbyist Judith Stern, a longtime friend of Howard Forman’s, said Tuesday that she and others "knew all along he didn’t have dementia.”

    Full Article & Source:
    Politician loses fight to get guardianship over her husband and his money

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    If you’re a woman with a bit of life experience, you already know you’re the boss.

    You’re more likely to drive health care decisions in your family, control household spending, care for millennials and elders, start a business and initiate a divorce. You have the longevity advantage over men.

    In other words, you rule.

    But does the world know it? Older women can sometimes feel like they’re invisible to workplaces and businesses, but they're actually the trailblazers others should be watching, says Joseph F. Coughlin, director of the AgeLab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and author of the new book, “The Longevity Economy: Unlocking the World’s Fastest-Growing, Most Misunderstood Market.”

    As people get older, the future is female, he argues, with women better prepared for life after middle age than their male peers.

    “One of the greatest under-appreciated sources of innovation and new business may in fact be women over 50 with new ideas, lots of life ahead of them and with the verve to get it done,” Coughlin told TODAY.
    He explained why older women will rule the world.
    Why the future is female:
    Coughlin: Women do more. They have more education than at any time in history. They’re likely to live longer.
    A woman is the researcher of the house. Women are far more likely to go online not just to do research for themselves, but be the go-to researcher for millennials, who identify their middle-aged mothers as their best friend.
    She is the caregiver-in-chief. Women are caring for more parents than they had ever planned — their parents as well as their in-laws. Getting to 100 is so common now that we see birthday cards in the drugstore for centenarians. There may be three or four generations under the care of one matriarch.
    A woman is the chief consumer officer of the house. She’s the one who knows what groceries are bought, what bills are being paid, how that house actually works. The majority of car purchases are directly influenced or done by women. If they’re luxury cars, the numbers go up even more. Home improvement is directed by the woman. Probably most striking is that 80-90 cents on the dollar of every healthcare decision is made by a woman.
    Because of all these factors, she is likely to be the person who is closest to understanding what the new jobs and the opportunities of living longer, better are going to be.

    Older women are driving relationships:
    Coughlin: The number one divorce rate in the country is among the 50-plus, mostly initiated by the woman.
    When we talk to men about what they think retirement is going to be, it’s almost celebratory: If they’ve saved their money, they see it as a time to play golf, take that trip, buy that new car. And they often talk about spending time with their wives.
    I can’t tell you how many women have told me, ‘I don’t know who this man is on my couch but I wish he would just go and get a job. I have routines, I have things to do and he’s always there and he’s always asking me what to do next.’
    I think men, particularly those of us over 50, need to up our game. We really have to take a lesson from women that life is more than work; that we need to develop new interests and keep that romance going.
    The relationship began decades earlier based upon what you brought to the table and what you created together. Suddenly in older age, men get so caught into a routine — partly because of our employment and lifestyle — that they forget that they need to continue to be exciting and delighting.
    Older women are changing the workplace:
    Coughlin: The new women’s movement is entrepreneurship.
    When you’re young, you’re willing to join a large corporation and put up with the bureaucracy. You do not have the patience to put up with that later on. By the time you’re 40, 50 or 60, chances are you’ve raised a family, managed a home, you’ve got an education, and you have already done your corporate gig.
    What we’re starting to see is that older women may be hitting a wall in many major corporations, and that is the corporations’ loss. They are becoming engines of innovation in their own right by starting consulting companies, new stores and online sites.
    How women should prepare for living their best life after middle age:
    Coughlin: Save money. Try to amass as many resources as possible.
    Take a cue from your mother’s generation and recognize social connections are as important as your financial wellbeing. Maintain that network of support — not just of people who can do something for you, but something that gives you meaning to life and engagement over the long term.
    Ask yourself: What are the little things that make you smile every day? Do you have access to them? Can you afford them? More importantly, can you identify them? Things that will give you quality of life over 100 years, not just the ability to live 100 years.
    Full Article & Source:
    Why older women will rule the world: The future is female, MIT expert says

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    Susan Finley
    Sue Finley began working at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory three days before the US space program launched its first satellite, four years before President John F. Kennedy declared a space race and more than a decade before men first walked the moon.

    Sixty years later, at 81, she has become the agency's longest-serving woman.
    Finley got her start in 1958 as a human "computer," a role predominately filled by women and popularized by last year's hit movie "Hidden Figures."
    She was responsible for solving complex equations for engineers in the space program. Alongside other women mathematicians, she calculated rocket trajectories by hand.
    It was not just arithmetic," Finley recalled in a NASA video on JPL's website. "It was math, and it was programming, but we didn't call it that."
    Digital computers eventually replaced her hand calculations. Advancements in technology led Finley to a number of career changes at JPL.
    In the 1980s, she wrote software for NASA's Deep Space Network. In more recent decades, she helped develop software for the Mars Exploration Rover missions.
    Finley said watching the 1985 Vega mission, a project during which two balloons were sent into Venus' atmosphere to collect data, was the most exciting moment in her long career.
    "I can remember being in the control room and looking at the screen and waiting for the blip to come," said Finley of tracking a balloon's journey to Venus. "And when it came, I actually jumped up and down."
    Finley is currently a subsystem and test engineer for NASA's Deep Space Network.
    In a 2008 interview with NASA, Finley said she has no plans to retire "unless things start to get really boring."

    Full Article & Source:
    She's worked at NASA for 60 years, longer than any other woman

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  • 12/23/17--23:00: Silver Bells
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    STATEN ISLAND — An NYPD officer is OK after a man stepped in and saved his life when he started to choke at a diner in Staten Island last weekend.

    It was all caught on surveillance video as the cop tried to make his way into the bathroom at the Staten Island Diner on Saturday, Dec. 16.

    Pointing to the back of his neck, the officer quickly caught the attention of others in the room, including fellow diner Rob Allegre.

    “I didn’t know what was going on," Allegre said. "He was just hunched over and I knew there was something going on and I asked him if he was alright."

    Allegre said he immediately started the Heimlich maneuver.

    "I did it three times," Allegre recalled, "and then he ended up started breathing. Yeah, yeah, I was shocked. I just did it. I didn’t even think twice. I just got up and helped him and it worked out. It was perfect."

    Diner owner Akis Iliopoulos said they were just seconds away from what could have been a different outcome.

    “If he would have went to the bathroom, it wouldn’t have been a good turnout," Iliopoulos said. "Because we couldn’t hear him."

    So who’s the police officer? A department spokesperson told PIX11 News he wishes to remain anonymous.

    Christin Sheahan, who said she’s had the Heimlich performed on her in the past, predicts there’s a good chance Allegre will be hearing from that unidentified officer very soon.

    “Somebody that saves your life, you remember who they are,” Sheahan said.

    Full Article & Source:
    Man saves choking NYPD officer at Staten Island diner

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  • 12/24/17--22:15: Happy Holidays

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  • 12/24/17--22:30: Happy Hanukkah

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