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NASGA is a public interest civil rights organization founded by several victims and for victims of unlawful and abusive guardianship and conservatorship cases. Please visit our website at www.StopGuardianAbuse.org for more information on how you can help stop guardian abuse.

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    This 75-year-old Knox County woman was a bit suspicious of the man’s claims she’d won a sweepstakes for the elderly – until he sent her a safe he said was stuffed with millions of dollars.

    “Hide and safeguard it,” the man told her. A key, he said, would arrive soon – if she paid taxes on her winnings.

    The woman would soon fork out $43,500 in a quest for that key and would end up exposing a nationwide scheme to scam the elderly using safes as props, court records reveal.

    Charges piling up


    The scheme is detailed in records filed in both Knox County’s criminal courts and in U.S. District Court in Knoxville after the arrest of one alleged co-conspirator in the scam – Betty Lou Repka Myers, 76, of Canyon Lake, Texas.

    Myers, represented by defense attorney Cullen Wojcik, is set to appear next week in U.S. District Court before U.S. Magistrate Judge Debra Poplin to decide if she must be locked up pending trial in an indictment issued earlier this month by a federal grand jury.

    She is charged in that case, which is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Kolman, with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and mail fraud. Myers faces charges in Knox County of felony theft and financial exploitation of the elderly.

    Myers also holds the key to law enforcement’s quest to unmask the identities of at least two other people involved in the scam as court records make clear she was working with at least two others in her alleged defrauding of the Knox County woman.

    USA TODAY NETWORK-Tennessee is not identifying the victim. The elderly often are reluctant to report their victimization in financial scams for fear of public embarrassment. Kolman used only the woman’s initials as identification in the indictment for that reason.

    A safe and a key


    Court records detail the following about the scheme and the Knox County woman’s victimization as part of it:

    The scammers rounded up telephone numbers for the elderly, though the method is not detailed in the federal indictment. A scammer – usually a man – would phone a scam target and announce the victim had been entered in a sweepstakes for the elderly and won millions. That part of the scam is a repeat of hundreds of similar schemes seeking to con the elderly into forking out money or bank account information.


    But the scammers in this newest scheme added a twist.

    “It was part of the conspiracy that some elderly victims were sent a locked safe, which was falsely represented to the victim as containing sweepstakes winnings that could be accessed only by a key to be provided to the victim at a later date,” the indictment stated.

    Stalking their prey


    In January, the 75-year-old Knox County woman received a call from a man bearing news of sweepstakes winnings. The male caller “feigned personal interest" in the woman’s well-being in a series of phone calls Kolman alleged were designed to garner the woman’s trust.

    A co-conspirator in Florida shipped the woman a safe in February. She received another call from the man who had promised delivery of the safe. This time, he told her to write two checks, totaling $21,000, with Myers as the payee, to cover taxes on her winnings. She did, mailing them to an address he provided in Canyon Lake, Texas.

    The indictment alleges Myers deposited one of those checks into her bank account March 5. A day later, Myers showed up on the woman’s doorstep, state court records show.

    “(Myers) told the victim more money was needed regarding the sweepstakes,” a warrant stated. 

    “(Myers) told the victim to go to two different SunTrust branch locations and remove money from the victim’s account to give to (Myers).”

    With Myers behind the wheel, the woman did as she was instructed, withdrawing $22,500 and giving it to Myers, the warrant stated.

    But when Myers demanded the woman’s cellphone, saying her “boss wanted the phone,” the woman balked and phoned authorities, according to warrants.

    Knox County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Jeff Monroe wrote in the warrant deputies found the woman’s cash in Myers’ purse, along with one of the checks the woman had been instructed to send to Texas.

    His case against Myers is pending a Knox County grand jury review.

    Full Article & Source:
    Knox woman helps unmask nationwide scam on elderly, using safes as props, promises of millions

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    A judge is recommending that the Florida Supreme Court discipline Melton Little and Scott Kallins for giving baseball tickets to a former judge while presiding over one of their cases, by placing them on probation for one year. Tiffany Tompkins

    Read more here: http://www.bradenton.com/news/local/article211812449.html#storylink=cpy
    A judge has recommended to the Florida Supreme Court that two Palmetto-based attorneys be punished for giving free Tampa Bay Rays tickets to a judge who was presiding over one of their cases.

    Scott Kallins and Melton Little, who is running for the Manatee County Commission District 4 seat, could face discipline as severe as disbarment.

    The judge who heard evidence about their misconduct, however, recommended one year of probation and that they be required to speak about their wrongdoing in front of other attorneys.

    The two attorneys are partners at the Palmetto-based firm of Kallins Little Delgado. The firm's well-known slogan "We Play Hardball" is featured in television commercials showing both attorneys and their third partner. Jim Delgado, carrying baseball bats.

    Read more here: http://www.bradenton.com/news/local/article211812449.html#storylink=cpy

    The Florida Bar filed ethics complaints against both attorneys with the Florida Supreme Court in March 2017 after their own investigation of what happened. The Bar found Kallins and Little had created an appearance of impropriety by offering and giving Rays tickets to former Circuit Judge John Lakin while he was presiding over one of their cases. The attorneys had also called into question Lakin's impartiality, the Bar found.

    Circuit Judge Archie B. Hayworth Jr., from the 20th Judicial Circuit and appointed by the Florida Supreme Court to act as a referee in the matter, presided over a three-day-long trial that ended April 26. On Tuesday, Hayworth issued his recommendation to the Supreme Court.

    Kallins and Little should be found guilty of misconduct, Hayworth recommended, and each should be given an admonishment and be placed on probation for one year.

    "While respondents are veteran attorneys who should have known better, and their conduct created an appearance of impropriety that could have damaged the public perception of judicial impartiality, there was no evidence presented of actual prejudice to the underlying case," Hayworth stated in the order.

    A call from comment to Kallins and Little for comment has not yet been returned.

    The underlying case at the center of this is a civil suit filed by Sandy Wittke — represented by the law firm Kallins Little & Delgado — in August 2012 in which she claimed that Wal-Mart was at fault when she slipped and fell in December 2009 at the store at 5315 Cortez Road W., Bradenton.

    The jury in the case, presided over by Lakin, ruled in favor of Wal-Mart but Lakin later granted Kallins Little & Delgado’s motion for a new trial on Wittke’s behalf. Wal-Mart appealed Lakin’s decision and in October 2016 the Second District Court of Appeals reversed his decision and reinstated the jury’s verdict.

    Lakin was facing a formal charge of misconduct from the Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission at the time, and in March 2016 he resigned. Lakin has since returned to private practice and is also facing an ethics compliant from the Florida Bar. His trial is scheduled to begin Wednesday.

    During last month's trial, Kallins and Little expressed remorse and admitted their actions were wrong, Hayworth noted. Evidence presented at trial regarding their character was found compelling, and the judge found that their public service and charitable work in the community would be hindered or eliminated if the two attorneys were suspended.

    Given their reputations, Hayworth found that it would be more effective discipline to require both attorneys to speak about the incident before new attorneys at required continuing education programs and to veteran attorneys at one more or conferences about how to avoid similar misconduct.

    Based on Hayworth's recommendation, both attorneys could be ordered to pay $5,300 in fees.

    Read more here: http://www.bradenton.com/news/local/article211812449.html#storylink=cpy

    Full Article & Source:
    Palmetto lawyers struck out when they gave baseball tickets to judge in their case, ruling says

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    A number of recent high-profile ethics complaints has focused new attention on New Jersey's judiciary. (Patti Sapone | NJ Advance Media file photo)
    What do you call someone who tells a rape victim to keep her legs closed, has a secretary do her son's homework, or in one case, allegedly hampered a police investigation of a boyfriend?

    In New Jersey, you call them judges.

    The number of grievances filed against judges has been growing, according to an examination by NJ Advance Media of never-before-released data from the state judiciary. And while the vast number of those grievances do not become formal complaints, several recent high-profile disciplinary cases have put a spotlight on judicial misconduct in courtrooms across New Jersey.

    They include the ethics case against John F. Russo Jr., a family court judge in Ocean County, who told an alleged rape victim that she could have possibly avoided the situation if she "closed her legs," according to a complaint filed against him by the New Jersey Supreme Court's Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct, or ACJC.

    While his case is still pending, Russo--the son of former Democratic Senate President John Russo Sr.--is currently on administrative leave after he was removed from his judicial duties last year by Ocean County's assignment judge in connection with other unrelated allegations.

    Wilfredo Benitez, a municipal judge in East Orange and Belleville, is accused of violating the state's Code of Judicial Conduct in the wake of an incident where he was found by State Troopers passed out in the driver's seat of his silver BMW on the side of Interstate 80, and subsequently struggled with a field sobriety test.

    "I can't believe you're doing this. I'm not a f---ing drug addict. I'm not drunk," he told the troopers, according to the complaint lodged against him. "I'm a f---ing judge. You're not going to give me any courtesy?"



    Ethics charges before the ACJC are also pending against Superior Court Judge Deborah Gross-Quatrone who was accused of ordering her secretary to do her son's homework. She was also accused of making a law clerk work off-the-clock without pay, and secretly taping conversations with other judges when her behavior came under scrutiny, according to the complaint.

    And Superior Court Judge Carlia M. Brady in Middlesex County is facing ethics allegations that she hindered the efforts of Woodbridge police to arrest her boyfriend on a robbery charge. In a complaint against Brady earlier this month, the ACJC said she "demonstrated an inability to conform her conduct to the high standards of conduct expected of judges and impugned the integrity of the Judiciary."

    Overall, five formal complaints have been filed so far this year against four Superior Court judges and one municipal court judge, up from four the previous year. But the number of grievances complaining of judicial behavior or violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct has climbed over the last three years, to 408 last year, up from 378 in 2015.

    Those filings rise and fall year by year, but the trend over the past decade has seen a steady increase. According to the New Jersey Courts data provided to NJ Advance Media, 276 grievances have been filed in first eight months of the current judicial year, which runs from July to July.


    Attorney Nancy Erika Smith, who represented Gretchen Carlson in her suit against Fox News co-founder Roger Ailes, argued that there have been an increasing number of judges, most appointed in recent years, who simply do not know the law.

    "There is a lot of grumbling among lawyers about judges who don't know anything about trying cases. About their having no experience in trying cases," she said of recent appointments to the bench.

    She placed the blame for that on the Christie administration's decision to end a long-standing process of using county committees of the New Jersey State Bar Association to scrutinize judicial appointments.

    "Chris Christie disbanded the most effective method of vetting judges," charged Smith, who served for many years on the Bar Association's county committee in Essex and co-chaired the Bar Association's  state committee for one year.

    "By disbanding the county committees, he made sure none of his appointees would be vetted by those who would most familiar with their experience as attorneys," she said.

    While Smith said there have been "wonderfully qualified people" named as judges, she added that there have been others who were "promoted out of positions they were failing at," or nominated by Christie as a political favor.

    All seven of the Superior Court judges brought up on ethics charges since 2016 were Christie nominations, records show.

    Former Christie administration officials took strong issue with any notion that the judges he nominated were lacking in qualifications.

    In a statement issued through a spokesman for the former governor, Jeffrey Chiesa, Christopher Porrino and Thomas Scrivo, who all served as chief counsel to the governor, said that "as the lawyers who oversaw the vast majority of these judicial appointments, we endorse and remain extraordinarily proud of the judicial appointments made during our tenures, and we reject any sweeping generalization that demeans these fine jurists based upon the alleged mistakes or misconduct of a few."

    In their statement, the three said that from January 2010 through January 2018, "Gov. Christie nominated, and the legislature confirmed, hundreds of judges, after each judicial candidate was carefully vetted by the state senator who sponsored him or her," as well as the state Bar Association, the Judicial Advisory Panel and the Governor's Appointments Office.

    "It is offensive and irresponsible for anyone to suggest that these highly qualified and hard-working public servants are somehow less qualified than the judges who were appointed prior to 2010," they wrote.

    Under the Hughes Compact, named for former New Jersey Gov. Richard Hughes, the state's governors have historically agreed to withhold nominations of judges, justices and prosecutors until the bar association's Judicial and Prosecutorial Appointments Committee deemed them qualified.

    But Smith said Christie revised the compact, limiting the input of the county bar committees.
    Gov. Phil Murphy earlier this year signed a new compact, bringing the county bar associations back into the the process, New Jersey State Bar Association officials said.

    The 'meanness of our time...'


    Former New Jersey Attorney General John Farmer Jr., who served on the Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct, said there may be many contributing factors to the rise in grievances.

    "Late in my tenure on the committee, we started seeing complaints based on judges' social media activity, which raised issues such as whether if a judge 'friended' someone on Facebook, that 'friendship' should have required recusal," remarked Farmer, who has also served as the dean of the Rutgers University School of Law. "Advancing technology, in other words, has increased the opportunities for potential misconduct to occur, and has also lowered the wall of relative social isolation behind which judges have traditionally functioned."

    He noted, too, there are more judges in New Jersey.

    "With that expanded pool, again, has come an increased likelihood that misconduct can occur," he said.

    More difficult to quantify, Farmer suggested, is that the numbers may reflect the "meanness of our time", in which honest disagreements are more likely to become personal and adverse rulings are more likely to be ascribed to bias or misconduct than to the simple fact that a judge disagrees with a party's position.

    "Having said all of that, it was true during my tenure and I assume it remains true that the vast majority of complaints filed against judges are investigated and dismissed," Farmer said. "This state has a deserved reputation for the high quality and ethical standards of its judiciary, particularly by comparison with states like Pennsylvania, where In years gone by Supreme Court Justices, as well as dozens of sitting judges, have been prosecuted for various forms of corruption."

    Beyond the vetting issue raised by Smith, the attorney said another reason for the overall increase in the number of complaints may also stem from unhappy litigants in divorce and child custody cases.
    "I know a lot of the complaints are in family court. There is a father's movement and one of their goals is to attack judges," she remarked.

    Judge Glenn A. Grant, acting administrative director of the courts, said in a statement that as an organization, the judiciary "holds all judges to the highest of standards" and communicates those standards through regular training.

    "The judiciary's commitment to judicial ethics is reflected in the work of the Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct, which consists of retired judges, attorneys and laypersons who investigate allegations of unethical conduct. If the committee finds probable cause for the imposition of public discipline against a judge, it issues a formal complaint and all further proceedings are made public," he said.

    Grant said while the number of complaints against judges fluctuates on a yearly basis, "the statistics continue to show that the vast majority of judges are hardworking and dedicated and conscientious about complying with judicial canons and procedures."

    Discipline of judges in New Jersey can take various forms.

    If the ACJC investigates a complaint and believes that the judge has violated the Judicial Code of Conduct, it may choose to discipline the judge privately. Or the committee, which is headed by retired Justice Virginia A. Long, can recommend that the Supreme Court issue public discipline against the judge, ranging from admonition to censure, suspension, or removing the judge from the bench.

    Only the New Jersey Supreme Court may publicly discipline a judge.

    Full Article & Source:
    The judge did what? Here's why more people are formally protesting N.J. judges

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    The Justice Department announced today that it has reached a settlement that resolves allegations that the owners and managers of a continuing care retirement community known as Sedgebrook violated the Fair Housing Act by instituting policies and maintaining practices that discriminated against residents with disabilities at the facility, which is located in Lincolnshire, Illinois.

    The proposed settlement, which still must be approved by the court, was filed today, along with a complaint, in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.  The complaint alleges that since 2011, Sedgebrook has instituted a series of policies that prohibited, and then limited, residents’ ability to dine in the communal dining rooms of the independent living wing of the facility if they required assistance eating due to a disability.  Additionally, the complaint alleges that Sedgebrook maintained a policy prohibiting residents of the independent living wing from hiring live-in caregivers and refused to grant reasonable accommodations to that policy that would have allowed Sedgebrook residents with disabilities to use and enjoy their apartments.

    Under the settlement, Sedgebrook will pay $210,000 into a settlement fund to compensate residents and family members who were harmed by these policies.  Sedgebrook will also pay a $45,000 civil penalty to the United States.  In addition, Sedgebrook will appoint a Fair Housing Act compliance officer and will implement a new dining and events policy, a new policy applicable to residents’ private employment of caregivers, and a new reasonable accommodation policy.  Additionally, Life Care Services LLC, the company that manages Sedgebrook and is a named defendant in the lawsuit, will take steps to implement similar policies at the over 100 independent living and continuing care retirement communities it owns or manages across the country.

    “This consent order will ensure that all residents with disabilities at Sedgebrook are treated equally and that residents are able to get the assistance they need in the dining room and in the other central areas of their lives,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Civil Rights Division.  “We are very pleased with the steps Life Care Services and Sedgebrook are taking to embrace new, non-discriminatory policies and help make them the standard, industry-wide.”

    “Equal opportunities must be afforded to individuals who require assistance due to a disability,” said U.S. Attorney Zachary T. Fardon of the Northern District of Illinois.  “The proposed settlement represents a significant step towards ensuring all members of the Sedgebrook community are treated justly.”

    Individuals who are entitled to share in the settlement fund will be identified through a process established in the consent order.  Persons who believe they were subjected to unlawful discrimination at Sedgebrook should contact the Justice Department toll-free at 1-800-896-7743 mailbox #995, or e-mail the Justice Department at fairhousing@usdoj.gov (link sends e-mail).

    The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability, and familial status.  More information about the Civil Rights Division and the laws it enforces is available at www.justice.gov/crt.  Individuals who believe that they may have been victims of housing discrimination can call the Justice Department at 1-800-896-7743 and leave a message at mailbox #995, e-mail the Justice Department at fairhousing@usdoj.gov (link sends e-mail), or contact the Department of Housing and Urban Development at 1-800-669-9777 or through its website at http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/fair_housing_equal_opp.

    Full Article & Source:
    United States Obtains $255,000 Settlement of Disability Discrimination Lawsuit Against Continuing Care Retirement Community in Lincolnshire, Illinois

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  • 05/26/18--22:30: The Dueling Caregivers
  • By Cathy Guisewite
    Ms. Guisewite is the creator of the comic strip “Cathy.”

    Credit Cathy Guisewite

    I walk into the kitchen just in time: My 90-year-old mother is aiming the frayed cord of an ancient waffle iron at an outlet by the sink.

    “What are you doing?” I exclaim, shooting my hand out before Mom can be electrocuted.

    “I’m making Mother’s Day breakfast for you!” Mom beams.

    “Don’t be silly! You’re the mother! I’m going to make a nice, healthy omelet for you!” I answer and open the cupboard to get a pan.

    “It’s my day! I’ll make an omelet for you!” she insists, nudging me aside. She pulls out her vintage nonstick skillet, so scratched that it seasons everything with little black flakes of no-longer-sticking-to-anything-except-the-food-you-swallow 1960s Teflon.

    She drops half a stick of butter in.

    “You shouldn’t use so much butter, Mom!” I scold her.

    “I’m 90 years old,” she answers. “Maybe you should use more butter!”

    “You work too hard,” I say, moving toward the coffee maker. “Let me help.”

    “I don’t need help!” Mom body-blocks me with her tiny frame. “You work too hard. I’ll pour some coffee for you!”

    “I’ll pour it for you!”

    “Stop trying to take care of me while I’m trying to take care of you!”

    We blurt that one out together. One voice. After decades spent liberating myself from Mom’s real and imagined grip to become my own person, I realize I’m arguing with a selfie. Might as well be yelling into a mirror.

    We look alike, sound alike and have an identical conviction that we know what’s best for the other. Dueling caregivers, that’s what we are now. Two genetic clones locked in a battle over which one needs the care and which one should be doing the giving.

    I, who have fought so hard against things that undermine women’s self-esteem, am now in the bizarre position of trying to care for my mother by pointing out all the things she can’t and shouldn’t do anymore.

    “That’s too heavy for you, Mom! Too slippery for you! Too complicated for you!” As if her generation of women didn’t spend enough of their lives being told what they couldn’t do: “You can’t have a career; can’t play sports; can’t handle finances. You belong in the kitchen!”

    And so my brilliant, educated Mom channeled her talents into becoming chief executive of the kitchen. It was her office, the one room in which she was completely in charge, where she filled her daughters with food, love and inspiration to go off and do all the things we got to do.

    Now, when I so want Mom to share in what feels like a global shift in how women are being respected and listened to, this is what I say to her: “Get out of the kitchen, Mother! You should rest while I cook breakfast for you!”

    “You should rest while I cook for you!” Mom answers, defiantly holding up a loaf of bread wrapped in plastic in one hand and a pair of scissors in the other.



    Credit Cathy Guisewite
    I leave the kitchen, but not because Mom said so. I need to regroup. Also to be closer to the first-aid kit.

    Am I stifling the woman I most want to uplift? Or has she made enough scary choices in the last four minutes to merit micromanaging? I want Mom to be free, finally, from rules, restrictions and limitations imposed by others. But what if she gets sick? Or falls? What if she tries to make waffles when I’m not here to fling myself in front of the outlet?

    I realize I can’t win this one, so I walk back into the kitchen committed to being the respectful, non-meddling recipient of my sweet mother’s love.

    But my sweet mother has turned her back on her pan of sautéing Teflon flakes, picked up a butcher knife and is stabbing a carton of juice to get it open.

    I lurch. Somehow, the ensuing scuffle for control of the juice turns into a hug.

    “You make me crazy, Mom,” I say.

    “You make me crazy, too, baby,” she answers.

    “Making each other crazy. Now that’s something we can always do for each other!” she says and beams a smile toward me. I beam the same one back.

    Might as well be smiling into a mirror.

    Full Article & Source: 
    The Dueling Caregivers

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    Dear Mr. Sessions:

    I have been hosting an internet radio show for about eight years most of which has been dedicated to exposing the ongoing trafficking of the elderly and the disabled with no other intent than to disinherit families by seizing the accumulated assets of someone else’s life’s work by professional predators. The result of these criminal acts, are the robbed and traumatized victims and family’s and the greatest transfer of wealth ever witnessed in this country. When government studies are done such as those by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) they look at only those cases that will support the contention that it is family or friends who commit these acts, without ever alluding to or even acknowledging the massive number of cases of guardianship and conservator abuses by professionals who make their living preying on the elderly who have committed the new age crime of aging with assets. 

    Having called your agency numerous times, and, after hearing from numerous other individuals attempting to report to your agency the human trafficking of the elderly and disabled by predators who operate as professional “guardians”, “conservators” and “attorneys” across the country, I am appalled by your lack of action on this issue. I suppose I shouldn’t be, after all, your agency is populated by individuals who are also BAR Association members and none of this human trafficking has happened without great efforts by BAR members to pass arbitrary and unconstitutional statutes in every state that allow them to traffic the elderly and disabled without penalty. The associated professional guardians also profit handsomely from targeting elderly victims and seizing their assets. And, during this process their bank accounts, property holdings and assets of all kinds are exponentially increased as they avail themselves of every possible dime in the estate with padded billings, spurious and inflated charges of all kinds, and repeated motions in these tribunals which of course is an absolute gold mine for siphoning money off the estate. 

    You do know, don’t you, that the targeted victim’s estate is forced to pay for every action brought against it. I liken this to having to pay for weaving the rope they are going to hang you with.

    Maybe you could explain to me:
    • How the living, breathing human being is forced to suffer a statutory civil death, equal in its legal consequences to a physical death, and then:
    • have their identity taken from them and assigned to a known predator, who now assumes and presents themselves as the victim, along with all their assets?
    • Why is it that in these tribunals, the rules of evidence do not have to be adhered to?
    • Why does the code of civil procedure not apply?
    • Why is due process never adhered to?
    • Why are ex parte hearings allowed to occur without notice to the family or the victim?
    • Why are these professional predators allowed to levy charges of all kinds against the victim and the family and friends without ever producing any evidence that the charges are in fact valid?
    • Why are they never asked for such evidence?
    • Why is no evidence allowed to be entered into the record of the tribunal refuting the claims of the predators?
    • And why is the victim forced to pay for the actions brought against them when no crime has been committed, there is no injured party and no damage to property that the predator does not own or have an interest in….yet.

    Does it not occur to you that if you are going to steal someone’s identity with the intent to profit, this should occur in a court of law with a jury present to hear the evidence justifying this theft of identity and the estate? Let me tell you why it does not happen. No crime has been committed. There is no injured party and there is no property damage nor any criminal act committed; therefore no civil or criminal charges would apply. . So they had to create this fictionalized system of statutes that declared the living person deceased with respect to the law, incompetent and vulnerable. The family and friends had to be declared a threat. No evidence needed, of course. 

    For years, anyone targeted under this predatory system was claimed to be bi-polar. Of course this diagnosis was made to prove incompetency, but since no tests or scientific evidence can be produced to support this disorder and it got challenged so many times, the word “incapacitated” (which can mean absolutely anything at all) has been substituted. Also, too many times the diagnosis was made by a paid “friend of the tribunal” who was a psychiatrist. Of course this professional rarely if ever saw the targeted victim and relied solely on hearsay remarks told to him/her by others. Others being attorneys, potential guardians, charge nurses who had guardians on speed dial and other “professionals”.

    Included in this list of known predators are the hearing examiners who are euphemistically referred to as “judges”. Everything pivots around this individual who facilitates the identity theft that results from a gifted guardianship or conservator-ship. With the blessings of the hearing examiner, these predators now present themselves as the victim, complete with testamentary powers so that property can be captured, sold or simply kept for personal use. Personal items of value somehow never make it into the inventories of personal possessions now claimed by the predators. I liken this aspect of human trafficking to the common practice of serial killers to keep certain items as trophies to help them remember and relive their insidious crimes.

    I realize that with the passage of S.178 – Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act many people came to believe that somehow this sham bill was going to correct an ongoing criminal racketeering enterprise, wherein predators working in the above mentioned capacities, target, kidnap, isolate and steal the estates of their victims. This bill will do no such thing, as you well know. The bill simply reiterated standing state and federal laws against wire fraud, internet scams, etc.. 

    Let me make myself perfectly clear here. As it exists today, probate and the ensuing kidnapping, isolation and the theft of estates is nothing less than the epitome of identity theft with the accompanying theft of assets of all kinds. 

    S178 had one purpose. That was to increase the power of and, funding to, the very agencies and individuals we are fighting every day of the week in an effort to protect our family members and friends from these very same predators. This bill not only did not provide any protection for those targeted under this system of trafficking, it provided no citing of criminal acts by these predators, nor did it provide for any criminal penalties or enforcement for these criminal acts by professional predators. 

    As you and I both know, if a crime is not specifically cited along with whom this criminal act would apply to, along with necessary penalties and enforcement, and who is to perform that enforcement, it has no lawful effect. But in the case of S178, resides specific language targeting family members or members of the public or community. Conspicuously absent was any reference to, or acknowledgment of, the professionals who make their living preying on the vulnerable with the intent of estate theft.

    As an afterthought on S178, was a “miscellaneous” paragraph. That paragraph was the unconstitutional ceding of lawmaking power to the Department of Justice asking the DOJ to create model legislation on guardianship. Congress has no Constitutional authority to cede their lawmaking power, as doing so basically negates any need for them to even exist as a branch of government. This is a clear violation of the separation of powers. But you already know that. 

    Every year, an estimated 5-10 billion in real wealth is transferred from the rightful owners to the predators. Add the 30-60 billion estimated by the federal government to be bilked out of medicare by the medical industry and I believe it becomes blatantly clear that the elderly in this country have been deemed a waste population and disposable which has also reduced them to the status of human property. Now reclassified as property, they are bought, sold, traded and profited from by professionals who are gaming a very sick system of human trafficking.

    My questions to you Mr. Sessions, are: Now that you have been unconstitutionally ceded law making powers, are you actually going to address the true problems in this system? Or are you simply going to pen model legislation that will codify the trafficking of the elderly by professional predators into actual law?

    Very Sincerely,

    Marti Oakley
    TS Radio/blogtalk
    The PPJ Gazette


    Full Article & Source:
    An Open Letter to AG Jeff Sessions: Will you protect the elderly from professional predators?

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    A Kent County man was arraigned in Muskegon County on 14 felonies after being accused of stealing more than $300,000 from a widowed elderly client.

    Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette said Gary "Duke" Haynes, 57, of Comstock Park, used his relationship as the victim's agent to remove money from her accounts over four years.

    According to investigators with the Elder Financial Crimes Unit, Haynes was given access to financial accounts of an 85-year-old woman with the intent of investing for her.

    “Many of Michigan’s senior citizen have worked all of their lives to save for retirement,” said Schuette in a release. “My office and the Muskegon County Prosecutor’s Office are committed to stopping those who would prey on our seniors when they are the most vulnerable to theft and financial exploitation.”

    Investigators said the money was used for his own personal benefit and to fund his two companies, Senior Planning Resource and Future by Design.

    Hayes faces charges of embezzlement, conducting a criminal enterprise and filing false tax returns in Muskegon County.

    His bond was set at $25,000.

    Full Article & Source:
    Kent County financial planner charged with embezzling over $300,000 from elderly client

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    NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Former Davidson County General Sessions Judge Casey Moreland is a convicted felon.

    He pleaded guilty in federal court to five felony counts.

    Moreland did not want to take his case to trial which was scheduled for next month.

    He stood in front of a judge and admitted to crimes that will send him to prison for years.

    Moreland came into the courtroom looking older than his sixty years.

    He wore a green jail outfit and had a full gray beard.

    He spoke softly as he admitted to obstruction of justice, witness tampering, stealing money from an organization that receives federal funds, destroying documents and conspiracy to retaliate against a witness.

    U. S. Attorney Don Cochran said after the guilty plea that Moreland's behavior violated the public's trust.

    "He was sworn to uphold the law instead of doing that he violated the oath and dishonored the robe he wore," Cochran said.

    Prosecutors initially charged Moreland with ten criminal counts but he pleaded guilty to five.

    One charge stemmed from undercover video taken by an FBI informant inside Moreland's home last year.

    It captured Moreland talking about planting drugs on his former mistress in an attempt to discredit her.

    Moreland's defense attorney Peter Strianse said with the evidence against Moreland it was the right decision not to go to trial.

    Moreland also pleaded guilty to stealing cash from the Drug Court Foundation which he helped start.

    Nan Casey who worked along side Moreland has already pleaded guilty in the case and provided undercover audio of Moreland talking about taking cash from self paying clients at Drug Court.

    Federal sentencing guidelines suggest Moreland could get up to four years in prison, but his attorney will argue for less.

    He says Moreland has been kept in solitary confinement for his protection and his time in jail has taken a toll.

    "Make no mistake Judge Moreland has felt the full force of this prosecution," Strianse said.

    Prosecutors say they will push for a tough sentence, but it will be up to U.S. District Judge Waverly Crenshaw.

    Sentencing is set for August 31.

    Full Article & Source:
    Former Judge Casey Moreland Pleads Guilty To Federal Charges

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    Novus Health Services in Frisco
    A former executive of a North Texas hospice on Thursday admitted her role in an alleged $60 million scheme that included overdosing patients to "hasten their deaths," according to a court document.

    Melanie Murphey, operations director for Novus Health Services in Frisco, pleaded guilty to federal health-care fraud charges. She faces up to ten years in prison.

    She is expected to testify against 15 others involved in the alleged conspiracy, including Novus’ owner Bradley Harris and his wife Amy.

    In court documents detailing her crime, Murphey said she was the "go-between" between Bradley Harris and five nurses and five doctors who are also charged in the alleged conspiracy. The others have pleaded not guilty.

    Murphey acknowledged she falsified paperwork to admit patients who weren’t even eligible for hospice services and took directions from Harris designed to maximize profits.

    "These directions included Bradley Harris’s instructing nurses to intentionally overmedicate beneficiaries with medications such as hydromorphone and morphine with the intent to hasten their deaths," Murphey said in the document, known as a factual resume.

    Bradley Harris, an accountant with no medical training, would decide which medications the hospice’s patients should receive, Murphey said, admitting patients were accepted into hospice care without seeing doctors face-to-face as required.

    If patients were on hospice too long and no longer profitable, Harris ordered increases in "whatever narcotic was being used, generally morphine, Dilaudid or Ativan," Murphey said.

    "Bradley Harris ordered these increases in medication because he wanted the beneficiaries to die," according to the document.

    An FBI search warrant quoted Harris as texting a nurse: "You need to make this patient go bye-bye."

    Murphey also admitted she falsified Do Not Resuscitate orders, or DNR’s, to avoid having to pay for ambulance trips to a hospital if the patient’s family called 911.

    She also admitted helping destroy evidence after they became aware of the FBI investigation.


    Full Article & Source:

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  • 05/28/18--07:55: The Unforgivable Truth
  • Today we pause to give tribute and deep thanks to our Veterans who have answered our country’s call. Many gave their lives or limbs in doing so. We honor them and their spouses and families who also gave the ultimate sacrifice. We call the Veterans and families of WWII “the greatest generation” and they certainly were for their time. While our Veterans bravely faced the enemy and the horrors of war, their spouses kept our country and their families going despite constant hardship and worry.
    Today, the greatest generation is under fire again and this time the enemy is elder abuse and guardianship abuse.
    Veterans are given constant tribute and honor in this documentary, “The Unforgivable Truth – How We Have Turned America’s Greatest Generation into America’s Abused Generation.” Please watch and share this video.


    JOIN The Elder Abuse Reform Now Project

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    Frank Purdy, a disabled military veteran in Northbridge, has five words tattooed on the inside of his forearms. On the right arm, it says “Strength” and “Honor.” On the left reads “Loyalty,” “Family,” “Trust.”

    A form of ALS, so far crippling his leg, is sapping his physical strength.

    The harm to his sense of loyalty, family and trust, after his 30-year-old niece allegedly purchased and registered to herself a used Toyota RAV4 sports utility vehicle last October, using $20,000 from a Department of Veterans Affairs grant intended for a handicapped-accessible minivan for Mr. Purdy, is much worse.

    “What I believed in deteriorated,” Mr. Purdy, 52, said in an interview.

    “I’ve got to depend on others. I can only walk a couple of feet. My anger toward her is astronomical.”

    In another Northbridge case last year, Gloria S. Morvan, 62, an informal caregiver for then-83-year-old Harold Swart, who is legally blind, wrote herself a check for $195,000 from Mr. Swart’s bank account and purchased a condominium.

    She told police, “He said he wanted to help me because I helped him.” Mr. Swart denied that claim.

    Ms. Morvan was charged in Uxbridge District Court, in April 2017, with larceny of more than $250 from a person over 65 or disabled. The case is currently awaiting a jury trial in Worcester’s Central District Court.

    Cases of alleged financial abuse of seniors or disabled adults are only the tip of the iceberg, experts in elder services say.

    According to the National Adult Protective Services Association, just one in 44 cases of financial abuse is reported.

    Nationally, as many as five million seniors are robbed or defrauded of $36.5 billion annually, according to the National Council on Aging.

    The Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs reported 9,799 confirmed abuse and neglect cases in 2017. More than one in eight, nearly 1,300, were financial abuse.

    Maureen Siergie, executive director of Elder Services of Worcester, said her agency receives up to 200 reports of abuse a month from Worcester and 14 surrounding towns served by the agency. Roughly 15 percent of those, or 30 a month, are for financial exploitation.

    As the regional elder protective services agency, one of 20 in the state, Ms. Siergie said, “It’s our job to get to the bottom of whether that person willingly made a decision (to give up resources) and whether they had the capacity” to make such a decision.

    Elder Services of Worcester serves as the clearinghouse locally for allegations of abuse or exploitation for people age 60 and older.

    The Disabled Persons Protection Commission investigates cases of abuse of people with disabilities under the age of 60.

    If the loss is more than $250, the agency refers the case to the district attorney’s office for potential criminal prosecution, according to Ms. Siergie.

    June 15 is the United Nation’s World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.

    While many are aware of scams often perpetrated on the elderly, such as calls claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service demanding money, or a grandchild needing emergency cash overseas, people find it harder to grasp exploitation or theft committed by trusted family members and caregivers.

    “The people who are most likely to victimize you are the people closest to you,” said Sheriff Lewis G. Evangelidis. “Unfortunately, you have to be aware of the statistics.”

    More than 90 percent of all reported elder abuse is committed by family members or trusted others, according to the National Adult Protective Services Association.

    Common ways family members and trusted others exploit vulnerable adults, the association notes, include: using a power of attorney, given by the victim to allow another person to handle his or her finances, as a license to steal; taking advantage of joint bank accounts for their own use; using ATM cards and stealing checks to withdraw money from the victim’s account; refusing to obtain needed care and medical services for the victim in order to keep the person’s assets available for the abuser; threatening to harm or abandon the victim unless he or she gives the abuser what he or she wants; and keeping change from errands or improperly charging for services by in-home professional care providers.

    “It’s more often than I’d like to see,” said Worcester lawyer Nicholas Daviau, who represents Mr. Purdy. “When money is involved, people act differently than they usually do.”

    “We see a boatload of (adult) children who live with their parents, living off their parents’ Social Security, and then you see them with nice stuff,” said Michelle Edelstein, director of the Sutton Council on Aging.

    “When you talk to the elder about it, they’ll say it’s a gift. They don’t want to get the person in trouble.”

    With paid caregivers, she said, it’s not uncommon for jewelry, collectibles and other items of value to disappear from the home. The caregiver typically blames it on the elder being confused.

    “It’s really hard to trust people in your home,” she said.

    Ms. Edelstein encouraged family members concerned about a senior’s finances or property to regularly check their bank account and mail. It’s also a good idea to take a video around the senior’s home, so there is a record of what was there. And watch for questionable behavior of relatives or other caregivers.

    Ms. Edelstein, a notary public, said she’s seen people asking a senior to sign a car over to a caregiver “for safekeeping.”

    In another situation, a senior signed over their house to a caregiver, since the senior didn’t have children.

    “Now the senior has to find a place to live because the caregiver wants to sell the house,” Ms. Edelstein said.

    Northbridge Police Chief Walter J. Warchol, whose department brought charges last year against the two alleged perpetrators of larceny on an elderly or disabled person, said he hears of about a dozen such cases a year.

    “A lot of time, it’s a family member. They don’t want to press charges,” Chief Warchol said. “They just want it resolved and let it go. They feel, who is going to take care of them?”

    He added it can be a delicate subject for older adults, who still feel independent, to share personal financial information with their children. If children aren’t familiar with their parents’ finances, it’s hard to detect wrong-doing.

    A public-private partnership among the state Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation, Executive Office of Elder Affairs, Division of Banks, Office of the Attorney General, district attorneys, Massachusetts Bankers Association and the Cooperative Credit Union Association have updated training materials to assist financial institutions in detecting and preventing elder financial abuse.

    Marla Snyder, senior vice president and compliance officer at The Savings Bank in Wakefield, has spoken extensively as a trainer.

    “Once you get into a fixed income situation, once you start losing money, it’s almost impossible to get the money back and their earning power is gone,” she said.

    Financial exploitation can have physical impacts, affecting medical care and basic necessities, as well as emotional impacts. Seniors affected by financial abuse may suffer from fear, depression, hostility, inability to trust and other mental health issues.

    Some studies looking at the relationship between elder abuse and mortality have found that abused elders die sooner.

    Financial institutions have gotten savvy, Ms. Snyder said, with software aimed to monitor and flag transactions that look suspicious. When such transactions are detected, a bank employee will usually call the account holder.

    Account holders can file a claim of fraudulent activity if they contest a transaction.

    “Hopefully, if they didn’t catch it on the front end, they’ll catch it on the back end,” Ms. Snyder said.

    But some small transactions fly below the radar. That’s why she encourages seniors to also monitor transactions and statements themselves, and alert their bank of any suspicious activity.

    Even seniors living in assisted living facilities or nursing homes can be victims of financial abuse by someone close to them.

    Richard Gordon, public relations specialist for SALMON Health and Retirement, said, “We usually get a sense that there may be something going on when we start to see our residents’ billing go into arrears.”

    It also shows up when people are looking for senior living options. Family members might not want “to make the decision that’s right for their loved one because it’s their inheritance that’s being spent,” he said.

    Mr. Gordon said all staff are trained when they’re hired and at least annually on all forms of abuse, including financial exploitation. When abuse is suspected, state agencies are contacted immediately.

    Cases referred for prosecution, particularly involving abuse by a family member, are “some of the most gut-wrenching stuff we see,” according to Worcester District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr.

    He said, “This generation (of seniors), they’re a very trusting generation. They want to believe people.”

    Prosecuting a case can be difficult. “We have to prove the defendant knows it to be a false statement,” when endorsing a document that diverts resources from the senior victim, Mr. Early said.

    And some arrangements between an elder and a defendant are not formalized, but “built on trust.”

    Restitution is always ordered when a case is successfully prosecuted. But sometimes, according to Mr. Early, “It’s like getting blood out of a rock.”

    In the case involving Mr. Purdy, the disabled Northbridge veteran, criminal charges against his niece, Toni Silva of North Brookfield, were dropped May 2. The motion to dismiss, co-signed by Mr. Purdy’s lawyer and the assistant district attorney, indicated the vehicle had been returned and Mr. Purdy plans to pursue the matter civilly.

    Mr. Daviau said the prosecutor explained, “They would have a tough time proving the elements of larceny.”

    Mr. Purdy acknowledged he had given Ms. Silva his power of attorney last May, when he was told by the VA - incorrectly, he later learned - he needed to assign a power of attorney to deal with contractors renovating his house through a VA adaptive housing grant.

    He revoked the power of attorney in November after he learned Ms. Silva purchased, insured and registered the RAV4 to herself.

    Neither Ms. Silva, nor her lawyer, returned calls for comment.

    Mr. Purdy’s plan is to trade in the RAV4, which was driven 11,000 miles since Ms. Silva purchased it in October, depreciating its value by an estimated $3,500, for a large minivan that can be used for his transport

    “She’s my godchild. I gave her money for her house,” Mr. Purdy said. “I gave her the world and she took it and stabbed me right in the back.”

    He continued: “I just want justice. I served my country; I did my time.”

    - Elder abuse reports can be filed either online at www.mass.gov/report-elder-abuse or by phone at (800) 922-2275. Elder abuse includes: physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, caretaker neglect, financial exploitation and self-neglect. Elder Protective Services can only investigate cases of abuse where the person is age 60 and over and lives in the community. To report abuse of a person with a disability under the age of 60, call the Disabled Persons Protection Commission at (800) 426-9009. To report abuse of a person by nursing home or hospital, call the Department of Public Health at (800) 462-5540.

    Full Article & Source:
    Financial abuse of elders often leads to family crises, lasting harm


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    FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) – A former Campbell County District Judge Timothy Nolan was sentenced to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to numerous charges related to human trafficking.
    Prosecutors accepted a guilty plea from Nolan Feb. 9 on 21 counts, including human trafficking of adults, promoting human trafficking of minors and unlawful transaction with minors, against 19 victims. At that time, prosecutors’ recommended sentences totaling 20 years in prison.
    As part of his plea agreement, Nolan will pay $110,000 in asset forfeiture and to the Human Trafficking Victims Fund –  within the executive branch’s Justice and Public Safety Cabinet – which was established in 2013.
    Nolan paid $10,000 to the victims fund and $40,000 in asset forfeiture today. He is to pay an additional $60,000 in asset forfeiture.
    Nolan, 71, of California, Ky., a former local school board member, was originally charged in a criminal complaint by the Campbell County Police Department for crimes that occurred between 2010 and 2017. That complaint alleged that Nolan committed human trafficking with a minor by subjecting a child under age 18 to engaging in commercial sexual activity.
    He was later indicted on 28 felony counts and two misdemeanor counts.
    Nolan is subject to lifetime sex offender registration.
    Full Article & Source:
    Former District Court Judge Sentenced To 20 Years In Prison For Human Trafficking

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    (3:18-cv00212)
    RENO, NV The complaint alleges Judge Frances Doherty and Judge David Clifton, both of Reno, Nevada, have colluded and conspired to keep 79 yr. old Susan L. Hillygus locked up and isolated against her pre-estate planning documents and trust.
     
    Judge Frances Doherty is a family court judge with the Second Judicial District Court of Washoe County, Nevada, who has a long history of imposing abusive guardianships upon individuals and their family, even against the family’s protests. The complaint alleges Doherty, a former executive for Washoe Legal Services and past president and on the board of director of the 501-c-3, continues to conspire with current and past members (who are all lawyers) to keep elderly and vulnerable adults locked up against the family’s wishes. The judge is still an active participant of the organization whose mission is to provide pro bono legal services to the indigent among the community. The complaint goes on to state that the judge uses her associations within the organization known as WLS to fill the court room with up to three to five court appointed lawyers, whose job it is to ensure the frightened and anxious senior is kept locked away, while the lawyers dismantle her estate. Mrs. Susan Hillygus estate was worth close to one million dollars when the court imposed itself upon the family and the family’s trust through an alleged illegal and abusive guardianship close to five years ago.
     
    Judge David Clifton is a Justice Court Judge for the city of Reno. His jurisdiction lies with residents of the city of Reno, Nevada. Mrs. Susan Hillygus is a widow as her husband fell victim to the illegal guardianship of Judge Frances Doherty and was dead less than two months after the guardianship was imposed through neglect of his court appointed guardian, the complaint alleges. After the passing of Herbert E. Hillygus August of 2015 the judge set her sights on the family residence of Susan Hillygus who lived outside the jurisdiction of the Reno City limits and ordered the home sold and Mrs. Hillygus sent to a locked facility (Stone Valley Alzheimer’s Center) even though she had lived in the home for 45 years and was living and being cared for by her son and daughter-n-law, each of whom are professionals with backgrounds in the medical field.
     
    The son of Mrs. Hillygus, Roger, who was appointed as her trustee, appealed the order to the Supreme Court of Nevada. On appeal Judge David Clifton using perjured affidavits and testimony from local attorney and associate of Judge Doherty, Todd Torvinen, allegedly illegally filed eviction papers with his former high school class mate, Judge Clifton to have the Roger locked out of the residence which has sat vacant now for close to two years.
     
    According to the recently filed complaint in the US Federal District Court of Northern Nevada, each of the Judges are being hit with multiple violations of civil rights and federal statutes pertaining to the rights of Mrs. Hillygus and her family. Judges are not above the law, and their immunity can be challenged if they are involved in a criminal conspiracy known as RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act).
     
    The complaint is being forwarded to the US Attorney General’s Office and the FBI for criminal charges and investigation, as some of the violations committed against Mrs. Hillygus include theft of her assets and are currently being investigated by the State of Nevada Department of Business and Industry through the Division of Financial Institutions and the Nevada Attorney General’s Office, Adam Laxalt, who is currently running for Governor for the State of Nevada as a Republican candidate.
     
    Contact: Roger Hillygus, (775) 232-5583 or rhillygus@gmail.com

    Source:
    Press Release

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    Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel has his sights set on those who target the elderly.

    Schimel and the Department of Justice have rolled out a website (here) and an ad campaign meant to deal with elder abuse.

    “We are working to try and raise awareness about a problem that’s pretty significant in Wisconsin,” Schimel said. “And it’s all the more significant because of the rapid pace at which our senior population is and will continue to grow.”

    Schimel says over the last 12 months one in 10 seniors have experienced abuse, neglect or exploitation.

    The new website, among other things, offers links to county helplines, police departments and local aging resource centers.

    It is now up and running. Schimel says it's an attempt to raise awareness and create solutions for a growing problem in the state: Vulnerable seniors becoming victims, especially through financial exploitation.

    “Sometimes they’re starting to struggle with late-in-life cognitive issues,” Schimel said. “Sometimes they’re just vulnerable because the internet is kind of a new world to them or maybe they’ve never been involved in financial transactions.”

    Schimel says currently only one in 44 cases of financial exploitation among seniors gets reported.

    “I’ve had bankers, financial planners tell me about clients they have that got wiped out, often times by a family member,” Schimel said. “Not always but often times, they could be living in poverty when they did save the resources to have a good retirement.”

    Schimel says elder abuse is a problem that will continue to grow in the state with the number of seniors increasing by 72 percent by the year 2040.

    Full Article & Source:
    Schimel, DOJ roll out elder abuse prevention program 

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    Former Napier lawyer Gerald McKay was struck off in 2014 after the New Zealand Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal found him guilty of one charge of professional misconduct by acting for a number of parties in a series of transactions where there were strongly conflicting interests.
    A disgraced lawyer who treated prison staff like receptionists will be getting out of jail next month, partly because the parole board is confident no-one would trust him with money again.

    Napier lawyer Gerald McKay, 76, was jailed in 2016 for four years and six months after a jury found him guilty of five charges of theft, five charges of using a document for pecuniary advantage, and one representative charge of criminal breach of trust.

    Between 2005 and 2010 money from clients' trusts was shifted into McKay's own business accounts for day-to-day expenses for his firm McKay Hill Lawyers.

    The firm's clients lost between $650,000 to $700,000.

    McKay was declined parole by the parole board last year, with the board saying he lacked genuine remorse and he "exhibits some sense of entitlement" and "sometimes treats the staff like receptionists".

    When the board saw him again earlier this month it said he had demonstrated insight into the triggers of his offending and a psychologist said there was a very low risk of him re-offending.

    The psychologist said McKay's offending occurred as a result of the position he held as a practicing lawyer.

    The board said: "That is no longer available to him. The case itself attracted significant media attention, and the report writer opined that people would be unlikely indeed to trust Mr McKay with money in future. The board accepts that view likewise".

    McKay would be released from prison next month. He would be subject to several conditions until his sentence ended in in August 2020. These included a condition that prohibited him from "handling money, provision of advice or management of the financial accounts or transactions, of any person or entity, unless you have the prior written approval of a probation officer".

    McKay practised law in Napier from 1967 until his practising certificate was suspended following a Law Society investigation of his firm's trust account in 2010. He was president of the NZ Trustees Association from 2004 until 2010. He was struck off as a lawyer in 2014.

    The NZ Law Society Fidelity Fund, which is funded by law practitioners, paid $448,000 toward the victims of his offending.
     
    Full Article & Source:
    'Unlikely indeed' that anyone would trust jailed lawyer with money again

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    Full Article & Source:
    Breen, Brady question bill allowing pension fund to pay nursing home bills for certain disabled residents

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    A father convicted of stealing more than $160,000 from a trust fund his dying wife set up for their young daughter has failed to convince a state appeals court panel that his lawyer was incompetent.

    By the way, Gary Blank represented himself during his trial.

    The Superior Court's rejection of the Bucks County man's appeal means Blank's 18-month to 4-year prison term will stand. So will an order requiring him to repay $161,495 to his daughter, who was 5 when her mother, Theresa, died from breast cancer in 2002.

    The state court's opinion was penned by Judge Jacquelyn O. Shogan, who cited county court filings that stated Blank was a drug addict when his wife set up their daughter's trust. After Theresa's death, Blank secured a $1 million settlement in a medical malpractice lawsuit.

    At its height in 2006, the trust account contained $539,000. Blank, 58, and his brother-in-law, Mark Mangano, were co-trustees.

    Although the money was supposed to be used only for his daughter's needs, Blank and Mangano started making regular withdrawals for their own use, investigators said.

    In one case, Blank withdrew $158,676 he claimed was his share of the marital estate, Bensalem Township police said. They said that at least twice Blank and Mangano, who struck a deal with prosecutors to testify against Blank, withdrew large chunks of money and split it.

    The criminal investigation began after an attorney Blank hired to work for the trust filed a lawsuit when Blank refused to pay him. Blank and Mango were removed as trustees in 2009.

    Prosecutors accused Blank, who had not been employed since 2002, of using his daughter's money to, among other things, pay his mortgage and utilities, to pay fees to a dating site, buy lingerie and tickets to a U2 concert and pay a bar tab.

    A county jury convicted Blank of theft, receiving stolen property, access device fraud and conspiracy charges after a three-day trial in 2012.

    Blank acted as his own lawyer for two of those three days. That's the main reason his latest appeal to the Superior Court failed.

    As Shogan noted, Blank claimed he was the victim of ineffective assistance of counsel tied to the cross-examination of one of his former lawyers who was called as a prosecution witness. He claimed the questioning of the lawyer violated attorney-client privilege.

    Blank was the one who questioned the lawyer, Shogan observed, so that argument falls flat. "We will not entertain (Blank's) claim of ineffectiveness for failure to object to the questioning...which occurred while (Blank) represented himself," she wrote.

    Full Article & Source:
    Dad who looted trust fund dying wife set up for their daughter can't evade prison term

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    The local attorney accused of stealing millions in settlement funds from his own injured clients has turned himself into police.

    It was those injured clients expecting thousands in insurance payouts who tipped off investigators that attorney William “Bill” Snipes was allegedly pocketing all the money and suddenly no where to be found until this past Sunday.

    According to a source with first hand knowledge of the case, Bill Snipes turned himself into police on the advice of his out of town defense attorney ten days after his brother was taken into custody at a little league baseball game in Harris County.

    Bill Snipes had been a well known local attorney for more than three decades when clients started to emerge this past January with horror stories about severe injuries, mounting medical bills and millions in insurance payouts missing, along with Snipes.

    “It’s pretty bad when you put your faith and trust in a lawyer, a ‘prominent attorney’ and they do this to you. I want to see him go to jail. I’d like to go visit him,” said Birdie Watford

    We contacted Watford to let her know Snipes was now in the Muscogee County jail charged with three counts of felony theft by taking.

    Using expletives Watford echoed the sentiments of other victims demanding their money back.

    The initial victims who stepped forward are the tip of the iceberg according to financial crimes detectives who are now examining nearly two dozen claims against the disgraced attorney.
    Since a First News investigation first aired, several more victims have come forward.

    The brother of Bill Snipes, Malcolm Snipes was also charged in connection to the case after detectives said he withdrew thousands from a trust account intended for those injured clients.

    Malcolm Snipes also remains in jail on a $125,000 bond.

    Bill Snipes is scheduled to appear in Recorder’s Court Wednesday morning.
    Full Article & Source:
    Attorney Accused of Stealing Millions Surrenders

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    To send an aging parent or loved one to live in a nursing homes is a difficult, often heart-wrenching decision.  It is self-evident why most seniors' first preference is to remain at home for as long as possible, to be cared for by family or a professional caregiver in a familiar, loving environment.  Yet there often comes a time in life, due to declining health or the lack of an available family caregiver, where seeking 24/7 care at skilled nursing facility becomes the last, best option.

    As baby boomers retire in unprecedented numbers, it in incumbent that New Jersey has an adequate system of oversight and safety standards to protect the wellbeing of our state's 44,000 nursing home residents.  Yet in key respects, New Jersey's nursing home industry is failing these patients and the healthcare workers tasked with their daily care.  As an industry which receives most of its revenue from public sources--Medicaid and Medicare--nursing homes have an obligation to use this funding to directly improve care at the bedside.

    Experienced caregivers are the foundation of quality care.  Without sufficient staff, no amount of money can ensure that nursing home patients receive the compassionate, personal attention they need throughout the day.  Yet despite New Jersey nursing homes being among costliest in the nation, our nursing homes rank 44th overall for certified nursing assistant (CNA) staffing hours per patient, according to data from Centers from Medicare & Medicaid Services.

    This is a concern which requires urgent attention.  CNAs are the primary direct-care workforce in nursing homes.  They are the individuals responsible for assisting patients will all their daily living needs--feeding, dressing, bathing, toileting, as well as providing general emotional support and friendship to those who are lonely and who may rarely, if ever, receive visitors of their own.
    Speak to just about any CNA, and stories will abound about times when they were totally overwhelmed by deficient staffing levels.

    Tyshara Bonaparte, who works at a Jersey City nursing home, says that recently she was the sole CNA caring for 24 patients during her 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. shift, the busiest time of the day.

    "What am I supposed to do when I have to attend to the needs of two dozen patients, all at once?  It is so unfair for them to have to wait to start their day, to delay breakfast or sit in a soiled diaper.  I put on a smile and do my best to make them comfortable, but things are not okay," she says.

    Josefina Jimenez, a CNA from Passaic, recalls that "one night I was the only CNA on a floor with 50 residents.  I knew that one of my residents was close to dying, and I wanted to comfort her in her final moments because she did not have anyone else to be there with her.  But I was so overwhelmed with my other responsibilities that by the time I made it to her room she had already passed away.  It was heartbreaking."

    When there aren't enough direct care staff, it bottlenecks other critical work.  "If CNAs are working short, it interferes with my nursing duties," says Miriam Douglas, a licensed practical nurse in East Orange.  "When residents aren't washed or fed in a timely manner, it takes time out of our day when we need to be administering medication to patients.  It disrupts our priorities and ultimately it's the residents who suffer."

    Stories like these are commonplace in nursing homes.  But they don't have to be.  Legislation (S1612/A382) has been introduced that would require nursing homes to meet basic minimum staffing ratios on a shift-by-shift basis: 8 patients per CNA on the morning shift, 10 patients per CNA in the afternoon, and 16 patients per CNA overnight.  This is a commonsense and straightforward approach to making sure that poorly-performing facilities raise their staffing levels to an adequate number.  It empowers patients, their families and caregivers to understand how their facility compares to a clear standard, and to know when CNAs are working short at any given time.

    We owe it to our state's seniors to pass this law in the current legislative cycle.  The stakes of inaction are too high for the tens of thousands of vulnerable people who depend on the type of round-the-clock care that only nursing homes can provide. This is a fight we can, and must, win.

    Full Article & Source:
    NJ must bring safe staffing levels to nursing homes

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