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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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    Mount Auburn Hospital in West Cambridge has involved in a case that set a Supreme Judicial Court precedent. (Photo: Mount Auburn Hospital)

    In a case involving Mount Auburn Hospital, the Supreme Judicial Court has restricted the ability of hospitals to force patients into a nursing home. The case is the first SJC interpretation of provisions in a 2009 reform law that strengthened protections for people in danger of having a court-appointed guardian get power to make decisions about their lives, according to lawyers who helped write the legislation and get it approved.

    The law was approved after revelations of abuses in the state’s guardianship system. The May 11 ruling by the SJC “is very important,” said Thomas J. Carey Jr., who served on a Massachusetts Bar Association committee that urged state legislators to adopt the reforms. The guardianship provision that the court interpreted “is one of the most important provisions of the whole law,” which reformed the probate system, Carey said.

    Mount Auburn had sought to discharge a 79-year-old woman, identified by the initials D. C., to a nursing home in 2016 after she was hospitalized for months with a broken hip as well as heart and kidney problems. The hospital went to court to have a guardian appointed so that the guardian could order D.C. transferred. The hospital asserted that D.C. refused medication, rejected hip surgery and couldn’t understand her treatment options – to the point where she was endangering her health and life.

    Despite those claims, a Norfolk County Probate Court judge found that D.C. was not “incapacitated” under the law. Judge George F. Phelan said that although D.C. “may be demanding, difficult, obstreperous and plainly refused to assist or cooperate” with hospital staff, she had “the ability to discern her medical condition” and could make an “informed decision” not to participate in her medical care even though it might endanger her life.

    High court takes over

    Therefore the Probate Court judge refused to appoint a guardian for D.C. But he did rule that the hospital could discharge her to a nursing home. Puzzled, the hospital asked for clarification, then appealed the judge’s refusal to appoint a guardian.The judge transferred the case to the Appeals Court, asking essentially whether a judge could do what he had just ordered. The SJC took over the case because of its importance.

    And the high court answered the judge’s questions with a flat “No”: A patient can’t be forced to go to a nursing home unless he or she is found to be “incapacitated” and a guardian is appointed, the SJC said. A judge must also give the guardian authority to transfer the patient to a nursing home, only after finding that the discharge would be in the patient’s best interest, the court said.

    In oral argument on the case, justices seemed frustrated that the hospital couldn’t discharge a patient who didn’t need a hospital’s level of care and was willing to stay for months. “You have a perfectly competent person who loves your hospital – you can’t say, ‘We need your bed?’” one justice asked.

    The lawyer for the hospital, Michael C. Boyne, said it was not that simple. “You have a 79-year-old person with a broken hip, she’s immobile with no family support, do we wheel her out?” he said.

    The patient who won’t leave
     Karen Owen Talley, who represented D.C., said the Probate Court judge had actually found that D.C. did want hip surgery and “no, she doesn’t want to stay in the hospital forever.” Dealing with a competent patient who doesn’t want to follow the treatment plan may require a solution that’s not legal, such as mediation, Talley said.

    A footnote in the SJC decision said: “We do not address the legal options available to an acute-care hospital where a patient who is not incapacitated fails to leave upon discharge.”

    Carey and six other attorneys involved in the reform law submitted a brief in the case that described the history of the reform law, said Mark A. Leahy, one of the others. “There was a lot of history that wasn’t being briefed,” Leahy said. Without that context, the SJC might have come to a different decision, one that was less friendly to patients like D.C., he said.

    Case was hidden

    The attorneys came close to not even knowing that the SJC was considering the issue, Carey said.One of the group “happened to see the oral argument,” which is streamed over the Internet by Suffolk University Law School, Carey said.

    Lawyers didn’t know about the case because it had been “impounded,” a common occurrence in cases in which medical, psychiatric and other private information about a person is involved. But the SJC impounded not only the personal information, but the name of the hospital and the briefs filed by lawyers in the case. (The name of the hospital was readily available in appeals court records, however).

    “I don’t believe that the [reform] statute intended that once it got to the SJC the facts should not be public,” Carey said. The lawyers’ brief argued that “on a broader scale when the SJC is preparing to hand down a major decision, the public has a right to know.”

    “Whatever the good intentions of the probate judge might have been, the thought that you can just decide willy-nilly ‘Well, no, you’re not incapacitated, but they can still toss you out into a nursing home anyway’ …” Carey said, describing the importance of the case to the public.

    “My view is we need to revisit the way impoundment rules are being interpreted at the highest level to make sure the public can participate,” he said.

    The attorneys had to ask for special permission to see the briefs of the lawyers representing Mount Auburn and D.C., he said. The documents they were allowed to examine were heavily redacted, Carey said. Their own brief was also impounded.

    Meanwhile, while Mount Auburn’s appeal was being considered, it filed another petition to have D.C. declared incapacitated and a guardian appointed. This time, the probate court judge agreed that she was incapacitated and went through the other necessary steps to have her transferred to a nursing home: He appointed a guardian and gave the guardian authority to have D.C. moved after finding that the transfer was in her best interest.

    Full Article & Source:
    Obstreperous older patient at Mount Auburn leads SJC to tougher nursing home precedent

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    NEVADA, Mo. — A judge sentenced a Nevada man this week to 30 years in prison for his role in a $1.2 million swindle of an elderly woman.

    Circuit Judge David Munton assessed Christopher I. Buller the prison term at a sentencing hearing Tuesday in Vernon County Circuit Court. A jury had found the 40-year-old defendant guilty of a Class A felony count of financial exploitation of an elderly person in a trial the first week of April.

    Buller's co-defendant in the case, Eric S. Davis, 41, of Joplin, pleaded guilty a year ago to a reduced Class B felony count of financial exploitation of an elderly person and was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

    The two men deceived a Nevada woman into selling all her stock in a major oil company to help bail Davis out of a supposed financial obligation to a trucking company and legal trouble with a court in Kansas City.

    Davis befriended the woman in January 2011 and she paid for him to attend a truck driver training school, where he rolled a truck into a ditch after just three days in the program. Although he was never a truck driver or an employee of the company that ran the school, Davis told the woman that he was employed by it and needed money to pay for the truck he wrecked.

    Buller assisted Davis by calling her and posing as a company employee with information about the amount of payments due.

    Davis subsequently extended his deceit of the woman by telling her that he needed to pay large sums of money to a judge in Kansas City to avoid serving jail time for a past debt. Davis provided her with the fictitious name of "Judge Henry Copeland," and Buller assisted him in that part of the swindle by telephoning her and posing as the judge.

    According to a probable-cause affidavit filed in the case, Davis would meet the victim outside her bank or in store parking lots, and she would bring him boxes or bags full of cash.

    The swindle came to light at a guardianship hearing in July 2014 when she testified that she had sold all her stock in the oil company and gave the money to Davis so he could take it to the judge in Kansas City. An examination of her living trust account by an investigator with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services determined that between January 2011 and February 2012, she'd made 16 cash withdrawals totaling $1.2 million.

    Davis told the investigator that he was a regular patron of a casino in Oklahoma and that he "may have gambled away" all the money he received from the woman.

    Christopher Buller chose not to testify at his trial in April when a jury found him guilty of assisting Eric Davis in the bilking of an elderly woman.

    Full Article & Source: 
    Thirty-year sentence meted out in $1.2 million swindle of Nevada woman

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    An 82-year-old attorney is behind bars Tuesday after allegedly embezzling more than $460,000 from a 92-year-old woman and her disabled and dependent son over a four-year period, according to the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office.

    Initially the family’s attorney, Daly City resident Albert Boasberg eventually became the financial and medical power of attorney for the elderly woman, who is living with dementia at the Marymount Greenhills Retirement Center in Millbrae, as well as her son, who is in his 60s and living at the Burlingame Long Term Care Center. He allegedly filled out 12 life insurance applications using false information about the man’s medical history and listing himself as the beneficiary and stole some $17,000 from the man’s mother between 2010 and 2014, according to prosecutors.

    He pleaded not guilty to felony charges of fiscal elder abuse and insurance fraud Tuesday. Boasberg is facing eight to 10 years in prison after a yearslong investigation produced a warrant for his arrest this week. The thefts were discovered when both facilities, where the victims receive 24-hour care, reported his failure to make monthly payments for the victims’ care to the county Health System’s Adult Protective Services, which resulted in his removal as the victims’ power of attorney in 2015. The county’s Public Guardian has been the victims’ conservator after Boasberg was removed as their attorney, according to prosecutors.

    Boasberg is believed to have used the funds for personal reasons, including diversion of some $100,000 to his wife’s home country, the Philippines, and luxury vacations in Las Vegas, according to prosecutors.

    Boasberg was ordered to have no contact with either victim when he appeared in court Tuesday and will next appear in court for a motion to reduce his bail, which has been set at $450,000, according to prosecutors.

    Full Article & Source: 
    Attorney charged in fiscal elder abuse, fraud scheme

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    DORA, Ala. (AP) — A woman charged with caring for an elderly Alabama man has been arrested in connection to his death.

    News outlets report 58-year-old Sharon Kay Lewis was charged Wednesday with manslaughter and elderly abuse and neglect in the death of James Johnson Woods. Charging documents say Woods died last September from sepsis, malnutrition and pneumonia.

    Court records made public Thursday say Lewis was released that same day on a written promise to appear in court. Cordova Police spokesman T.J. Armstrong says elderly abuse charges can apply to a range of cases from financial exploitation to sexual abuse.

    Full Article & Source:
    Caretaker Charged in Sepsis, Malnutrition Death of Man

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    HIALEAH, Fla. - Hialeah Police Department officers said they found a house of horrors Thursday.

    They were responding to reports that a man was feeling suicidal. But it wasn't the man that concerned them the most. It was the "elderly residents who had urinated themselves," the refrigerator that was under lock and key, and that there weren't enough beds, according to a report. 

    "Multiple residents stated they sleep on the floor, while others share beds," a police officer wrote in an arrest report. "I observed three people sleeping on the same bed."

    Officers said they found 25 adults, ages 20 to 80, in neglectful conditions at 17 E. 10 St., near the Hispanic American United Methodist Church. Officers said they were under the care of Martha Perez Rodriguez. 

    The residents of the home accused the 60-year-old woman of regularly administering a drug that made them feel lethargic, police said. 

    Some of the residents said they were paying Perez Rodriguez anywhere from $500 to $750 a month to be there. They told police officers she was receiving their disability checks and not giving them a penny. 

    Kevin Rotter said he lived in a separate part of the property and said he had no idea that there was neglect inside of the home. He said he later saw the mess inside. The backyard of the home looked like a junk yard. 

    "It looked like a crack house," Rotter said. 

    Officers arrested Perez Rodriguez who is facing charges of operating an assisted living facility without a license and exploitation of the elderly and the disabled. 

    Miami-Dade property records show Felix Cruz Valdes is the owner of the two-bedroom, one-bathroom home, where the arrest was made. The home is not the only one in the neighborhood. The licensed Palm Breeze Assisted Living Facility operates next door. 

    Full Article & Source:
    Woman accused of exploiting elderly at illegal assisted living facility

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    On May 24, Judge Heather Barajas led the swearing-in ceremony for the first trained Volunteer Guardian Advocate for Seniors and Incapacitated Adults in Montgomery County.

    The Wabash Center’s Montgomery Adult Guardianship Services (MAGS) recruits, trains, supports and supervises volunteers to serve as limited guardians appointed by the Montgomery County Superior Court.

    The new volunteer works for a hospice agency in Crawfordsville, but White declined to share his name.

    “He came and just wanted more information about our program,” Sharon White, program coordinator for MAGS, said. “When I told him what we do, he asked to become one of my volunteers.”

    The newly appointed MAGS volunteer is the first in Montgomery County but he joins a network of volunteer guardian advocates across the state of Indiana. She said volunteers’ daily activity is dependent on the individuals that are under guardianship. 

    “The volunteer’s primary responsibility is to visit regularly with the individual and make sure that all of their needs are being met,” she said.

    White said 90 percent of the individuals that they have guardianship over have either outlived their other family members or their family member have abandoned them. She said a volunteer could help a patient decide whether or not to pursue chemotherapy treatment for leukemia or just meet with them and read to them. 

    Most of her volunteers currently assist with individuals who reside in a nursing facility and suffer from dementia that has left them mentally incapacitated. 

    Funding for the program is provided by the state of Indiana VASIA Grant, Wabash Center, and Montgomery County. 

    MAGS currently has seven adults in need of an advocate in Montgomery County. 

    Interested persons, who are 21 or a full-time college student over the age of 18, can contact White at 765-423-5531 to get more information on the application process. 

    Full Article & Source:

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    On June 6 representatives from the 12th Judicial Circuit will be appearing in front of the Manatee County Commission to request funding for a guardianship monitor to assist the court in monitoring the health, welfare and safety of Manatee County residents who are the subjects of guardianships and who are under the jurisdiction of the Guardianship Court of Manatee County. 

    A guardian is a surrogate decision-maker appointed by the court to make either personal and or financial decisions for a minor or for an adult with mental or physical disabilities. The subject of the guardianship is termed a “ward."The person legally charged with looking out for the ward is the “guardian." Guardianships, once established, can deprive the ward of the most basic rights. These would include the right to make financial decisions, medical decisions, and decisions about where to live and whom to socialize with, and even the right to vote.

    A guardianship is commonly set up for those who as they become older cannot manage their personal finances or physically become unable to take care of themselves independently. Sometimes guardianships are set up because the ward suffers from a physical disability or as a result of an accident or injury. More and more guardianships are being set up to assist those who suffer from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The majority of Manatee County cases consists of elderly wards who no longer are able to independently take care of themselves and are totally dependent on their guardian to make certain they are receiving the care they need to have a satisfactory quality of life. Currently there are over 467 active guardianship cases in Manatee County.

    The court normally relies on the guardian to make certain the ward is safe and well cared for. Professional guardians, for the most part, do an excellent job taking care of the ward and reporting to the court. However the majority of guardians are relatives, many who live out of town, friends, caretakers, neighbors of the ward, or someone the assisted living or other facility has asked to look after the ward. 

    We have all heard the horror stories regarding physical and financial exploitation of wards by their guardians and caretakers. All too often the courts find out about these abuses after the fact.

    In Sarasota, the Sarasota County Commission approved a Guardianship Monitor who acts as the eyes and ears of the court. The guardianship monitor has assisted the guardianship court in Sarasota in following up on abuse and neglect incidents that would not normally have come to the court's attention. The guardianship monitor has also been instrumental in helping to restore the rights of wards who no longer meet the criteria for having their fundamental rights taken away from them. Often the guardianship monitor will act independently, based upon a letter or phone call and can bring issues to the court’s attention immediately.

    Most importantly, the guardianship monitor will make site visits to the ward on a regular basis to make certain the ward is safe and secure. Currently there is no mechanism in Manatee County to do this.

    We feel that for the citizens of Manatee County to be assured that some of the most vulnerable of their fellow citizens are receiving all the protection and services we can give them, the funding of a guardianship monitor be given serious consideration by the Manatee County Commission.

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    Charles E. Williams is chief judge of the 12th Judicial District, which is comprised of Manatee, Sarasota and DeSoto counties.

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    Full Article & Source:
    Manatee County would benefit from a guardianship monitor

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    Billie Lawler of Austin won $750,000 in the Mega Millions in 2005, but less than five years later she was out of money. Her daughter pleaded guilty to crimes related to taking the money in March 2018 and was sentenced to 10 years of probation Wednesday in Travis County.
    Jane Greenwood took $250,000 from her mom’s account and gave some to her husband and some to her boyfriend.

    Not long after Austin widow Billie Lawler matched all five numbers in the Mega Millions in 2005, her health began to erode along with her $750,000 prize.

    She hoped to live out the balance of her life at a high-end Alzheimer’s care facility, but was evicted after about a year when she no longer could make the $5,000 monthly rent, prompting a court-ordered investigation that revealed her daughter had burned through her mom’s money — a crime against the elderly that prosecutors and judges say is common, but seldom results in criminal charges.

    Shipped off to a state-run facility, Lawler died a month later in August 2010 due to complications from a fall. She was 72 — five years after leaving a South Austin convenience store with her winning numbers.

    “She did not have the life she should have had but for this theft,” Travis County Probate Judge Guy Herman said.

    Jane Greenwood, the youngest of Lawler’s three children, was sentenced to 10 years of probation Wednesday for taking what prosecutors say was about $250,000 of her mom’s money. Greenwood gave $27,000 to her husband and $11,000 to a man that a family member said Greenwood had been dating on the side. There were smaller transactions at Walmart and at a sports memorabilia store. She dined at upscale restaurants and cut checks to several more family members.

    Greenwood, 53, pleaded guilty in March to two first-degree felonies related to the theft. With so many family members having already pocketed a chunk of Lawler’s money, state District Judge Brad Urrutia ordered a $51,000 restitution payment to be made by Greenwood to her mom’s sister, Betty Brown.

    Reached Friday by the American-Statesman, Brown, 75, choked back tears and said the lottery win brought more harm than good.

    “It meant nothing but misery,” she said. “It just seemed like everything happened after that. It’s been hard. … We were amazed — absolutely amazed — she could spend that much money in that short of time.”

    Brown said she agreed with probation as a punishment, believing her sister would not have wanted Greenwood to be placed behind bars. Greenwood’s lawyer, Jim Young, said probation was appropriate despite “substantial irregularities to the way the estate was handled.” Greenwood is on probation for an unrelated methamphetamine possession case in Hays County.

    At the time Lawler checked into Arveda Alzheimer’s Family Care in May 2009, her account balance was in the neighborhood of $307,000, prosecutors said. By then, the woman who had lived modestly on whatever she made as a seasonal IRS worker had distributed some of her winnings to family. She treated herself to a Chrysler 300.

    Greenwood applied and was appointed by a court to be her mom’s guardian. But she never posted a required bond and the agreement was voided in July 2010. Her mom died a month later.

    A lawyer appointed to replace Greenwood as guardian discovered money had been missing and filed a criminal complaint with the district attorney’s office. Greenwood was indicted in April 2015 on charges of aggravated theft and aggravated misapplication of fiduciary property. The two charges took into account the victim’s age.

    The prosecutor on the case, Keith Henneke, said that without the theft Lawler would have had enough money to stay at Arveda through mid-2017.

    “Unfortunately, these cases are rampant in our communities,” Henneke said. “We continue to work hard to bring these cases to light to protect our most vulnerable citizens.”

    A separate civil dispute was resolved by Greenwood and other heirs of the estate, who distributed roughly $130,000 from the sale of Lawler’s South Austin home.

    Judge Herman, who oversaw the civil case, said he’s pleased that criminal consequences arose from Greenwood’s theft.

    “There is a reluctance to prosecute because the perception is the victim can’t tell you,” he said. “It’s not the easy case where someone stole my bicycle and we know who did it.”

    Full Article & Source:
    Austin lottery winner battled Alzheimer’s as daughter stole $250,000

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    Marine veteran Edward Redmond sometimes wanders the streets of Jackson, battling schizophrenia and addiction.

    “It seems as if the devil wants him dead,” his sister, Linda Taylor, told a Veterans Affairs official in a March 28 email, “but his constitution and our prayers are keeping him here.”

    And like so many other Mississippians struggling with mental illness whose families have reached a breaking point as caregivers, Redmond wound up in a succession of personal care homes, some of them poorly run.

    Dr. Joy Houston, program director of psychiatric emergency services for the University of Mississippi Medical Center, said if Mississippi were seamless in how it treated those suffering from mental illness, patients could easily transition from hospital care to homes where they could receive outpatient support.

    Instead, many end up in personal care homes, which act as modern-day boarding homes.

    When an ombudsman visited the Horizon Personal Care Home at 438 Clifton St. in Jackson on Nov. 19, 2014, she reported that a man living there had punched other residents, chasing one of them down the street with a two-by-four and threatening to kill her. Shortly after this, the man moved to another home.

    Nine months later, inspectors visited Horizon and found residents in “immediate jeopardy,” living in 89-degree heat with roaches, mold and a kitchen ceiling leaking water.

    Inspectors halted use of the home, which had been licensed to Wanda George Latham.

    Rather than halting operations, she opened up a personal care home on 825 S. Plaza St. in Jackson, this time without a license.

    Three days after Christmas in 2016, the state Department of Health won an injunction against Latham to keep her from operating.

    That same year, a Hinds County grand jury indicted Pebla “Pebbles” Jones Wright, the owner of a personal care home, on a charge of felony exploitation of a vulnerable person, accusing her of taking $12,000 from a patient and attempting to steal another $2,900. The case is still pending.

    Two years ago, a Purvis man was convicted of sexual battery of a vulnerable person at a personal care home in Lamar County, where he worked as a maintenance worker.

    Attorney General Jim Hood’s Vulnerable Persons Unit — which saw state lawmakers sweep $500,000 from its budget last year — investigated and prosecuted the case.

    In 2017, the unit received 3,151 complaints and opened 231 investigations, five of which resulted in convictions. Most of the complaints involved nursing homes.

    Hood has long complained about the lack of regulation of personal care homes.

    'They pop up like weeds'

    State law requires personal care homes to be licensed if they house more than three people, and the state Department of Health, which since 2014 has seen Mississippi lawmakers slash more than $48 million from its special and general funds, is responsible for inspecting those homes.

    Despite that law, an untold number of personal care homes in Mississippi operate without licenses and without oversight.

    The Health Department puts out a list of licensed homes, which number 18 in Jackson alone (half of which are assisted living facilities).

    Unlicensed homes far outnumber the licensed ones in west Jackson, and these homes continue to multiply. “They pop up like weeds,” Houston said.

    Each day, Gateway Rescue Mission, which sits on the western edge of downtown Jackson, serves a hot lunch to the homeless and what Executive Director Rex Baker calls the “almost homeless” — those living in nearby personal care homes.

    “A year or two ago, we would be lucky if we broke 100 (meals) for lunch,” he said. “Now we’re breaking 200.”

    Some personal care homes operate in good faith, but many don’t, he said, and that’s one reason why an increasing number from these homes are showing up at Gateway.

    Stewpot Community Services has also seen an increase in hot lunches.

    “We are serving about 200 people at lunchtime nearly every day,” said Executive Director Jill Barnes-Buckley. “Often, this translates into about 300 plates of food with seconds.”

    Of the 2,000 or so people recorded as homeless in Jackson, at least a fourth are struggling with mental illness — 100 of them who have just been released from psychiatric hospitals or facilities, she said.

    Since she took over as executive director for Stewpot Community Services 17 months ago, “I’ve seen an increase in those coming around who have mental illness or substance abuse issues,” she said. “A significant number of them come from personal care homes.”

    She said Stewpot winds up being an entry point to connect them with mental health services. 

    At a time when mental health needs are increasing, mental health resources are declining, she said. “There are not enough resources to help everyone who has mental issues.”

    Living with schizophrenia

    Nationwide, more than 43 million Americans over the past year have battled mental illness, but the story that often goes untold is the struggle of their families.

    Mental health experts say helping a loved one suffering any long-term disease strains caregivers.

    “Families need to get support,” said Houston. “Caregiver burden and burnout is a very real thing.”

    Redmond's parents were among those who could no longer care for their mentally ill son.

    In 1966, Redmond became the first black male student to attend what had been the all-white Provine High School.

    When his mother took him to register, a white student yelled at him, “Hey, n-----, we’re going to make it hard for you.”

    “He wanted to go back,” recalled his mother, Mariah. “I told him, ‘Keep walking. Don’t pay any attention.’”

    After he finished high school, he joined the Marines, when the fighting of the Vietnam War was fiercest. During that time, he was stationed in Okinawa.

    But he was unable to realize his dream of becoming an aviator, leaving him disappointed and angry.

    When he returned home on furlough, “we were all surrounding him and hugging him,” his mother recalled. “He was just standing there.”

    After he came out of what seemed like a trance, he told his family that his mind had left his body and started traveling.

    “We were just shocked,” his mother recalled. “He would withdraw from us and not have too much to say.”

    After he finished his time in the Marines, he married. He became more withdrawn, and his marriage ended after only a few years.

    “That broke his heart,” his mother recalled. “He told me, ‘I don’t want to live anymore.’”

    She saw her son going downhill and eventually using drugs. “We had him admitted into the VA hospital (in the 1980s),” she said. “They detected he was schizophrenic.”

    He became a 100 percent disabled veteran after being diagnosed as suffering from paranoid schizophrenia. She became the guardian over his military benefits, and her late husband, the Rev. Jessie Redmond, served then as guardian over his Social Security benefits.

    But as her son’s mental illness worsened, they could no longer care for their son.

    In 1994, they agreed to let Jackson lawyer Harry Rosenthal become guardian of their son, Edward Redmond.

    After that, Redmond stayed briefly with his sister, Taylor, and her husband, Franco.

    He said he got Redmond off crack and put him to work in a bakery in Memphis, where the couple operates the Right Stuff Health Ministries.

    He had a radio show on nutrition, and Redmond called in one night, saying he was healthier now that he was free from both legal and illegal drugs, "thanks to God and to you."

    Rosenthal said he didn’t let Redmond stay because Franco wanted $3,000 a month to keep Redmond.

    Taylor and Franco responded that the upkeep for Redmond was expensive, given his needs.

    As the decades passed, he bounced from place to place across Mississippi, spending time in psychiatric wards, hospitals, jails, motels and personal care homes.

    When his parents visited him at one of those homes in Florence in 2003, they were horrified.

    When the caretaker of the home "mentioned that the place was a prostitution, drug addiction place," his mother recalled, "we took him home with us."

    After he cut his hand and it wouldn't stop bleeding, Redmond went to the G.V. "Sonny" Montgomery VA Medical Center in Jackson, only to be moved back into a personal care home, she said.

    "That was the true beginning of the end," his mother recalled, her son going from "slop house" to "slop house."

    Nowhere to turn

    When the Redmond's family complained to VA officials in 2005, they went and interviewed him.

    "Mr. Redmond appeared to be clean and happy with his guardian," Joe J. Adair, director of the regional office of the Department of Veteran Affairs, wrote in a letter. "He indicated that he was happy where he was living and had no complaints with his guardian."

    Rosenthal said that Redmond has received good care over the years but has had problems because of his behavior and his felony conviction.

    “My goal is to have Edward put into VA nursing home,” he said. “The reason they don’t take him is because of his behavioral pattern. I’m constantly preventing him from being arrested.”

    Redmond has been repeatedly arrested for shoplifting.

    Rosenthal said he put Redmond in a Gulf Coast nursing home but after arrests on shoplifting charges, he moved Redmond to a personal care home in Kiln.

    “He was real happy there and participated in the drug program at the VA,” Rosenthal said.

    But Taylor said the family was far from happy, calling the place “below dump status.”

    The Redmond family asked Rosenthal to return Redmond to the Jackson area, where the family could visit him more easily.

    Rosenthal said he moved Redmond to Brookdale Residential Home in Clinton, paying $4,754. He also purchased $2,762 in furniture from an estate sale.

    Taylor called the furniture “pieces of crap. It was all scratched up and pitiful.”

    Rosenthal disagreed, saying he purchased couches, other furniture and a television. He said all those items belong to Redmond and are in storage now.

    Redmond stayed several months at Brookdale until he “misbehaved,” Rosenthal said.

    Afterward, he put Redmond in a personal care home in west Jackson, which sat next door to one the Health Department shut down before.

    When the family learned where he was, his sister, Taylor, said the family would call the home early in the morning, only to find out he had eaten breakfast and had left “to go down to the bus station area.”

    She said that concerned them because Redmond is so vulnerable, using a walker.

    When Taylor’s husband, Franco, visited the home, he said he saw "weeds all around. There was a dog chained on the porch. It stunk, and people were laying in the gutter.”

    He said Redmond “gave up on the world when he came out of the war. If he can get enough beer, cigarettes and hot dogs, that’s all he wants.”

    Last month, Redmond somehow made it from that personal care home to the VA Medical Center in Jackson.

    What stunned family members was how much it seemed that Redmond’s health had deteriorated over the past year or so.

    Family members told the Clarion Ledger they were also upset because many of the places that Redmond had stayed over the years were not VA-approved places.

    The family pushed for Redmond to be moved into a VA-approved assisted living home, and Rosenthal agreed.

    He said he has always tried to accommodate the family’s wishes, if possible.

    He said the real source of his conflict with the family is “they have always wanted his money. That’s the problem.”

    Taylor disagreed, saying, “Our family’s concern for Edward is motivated out of genuine love."

    Edward's sister, Celia Burse, and her husband, Pastor Jimmie Burse, said Edward, who is missing many of his top front teeth, needs dental care, physical therapy and a daily assistant but that he hasn’t been receiving these like he should.

    Rosenthal said Redmond has received good care over the years. “He’s a good guy,” he said. “I get along with him.”

    The family is hoping to regain guardianship of Redmond through the courts. So far, the VA has sided with Rosenthal, who serves as guardian. The VA, however, did recently appoint someone else to handle Redmond's money.

    Celia Burse said there needs to be a “war cry for the mentally disturbed in this city, state and country. Can you hear it?”

    Full Article & Source:
    Mentally ill relative wanders streets while family fights guardian

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    Using nonverbal communication tips improves quality of life

    Communicating with someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia can be tough without learning some new techniques.

    The damage in their brain has changed the way your older adult hears, processes, and responds to conversation. That’s why it’s necessary to adapt the way we communicate to match their abilities.

    Often, the nonverbal messages we send with our body language and facial expressions come through more clearly than the words we speak. And sometimes the nonverbal messages don’t match the words we use, which causes confusion. That’s why being aware of our nonverbal communication is such an important dementia communication technique.

    Using body language and facial expressions that help your older adult clearly and easily understand your meaning can reduce confusion, agitation, and anger as well as increase cooperation. This makes caregiving easier and improves quality of life for both of you.

    We explain what nonverbal communication is and share 6 helpful nonverbal communication tips that you can use right away.

    What is nonverbal communication?

    There are many different types of nonverbal communication, including:

    1. Facial expressions
    Your face can express emotions without saying a word. And many facial expressions are the same across cultures, like happiness, sadness, anger, surprise, fear, and disgust.

    2. Body movements and posture
    The way someone moves and carries themselves can say a lot about them, their mood, and their state of mind.

    3. Gestures
    When we talk, we use gestures without even thinking about it – waving, pointing, and using our hands when we’re angry or excited.

    4. Eye contact
    For people who can see, vision is the dominant sense. That’s why eye contact is so important. The way you look at someone can say a lot. Plus, eye contact helps you see the other person’s engagement level and reactions.

    5. Touch
    Touch is another way to “speak” without using words. For example, these mean very different things: a limp handshake, a gentle shoulder tap, a warm hug, a reassuring pat on the back, a patronizing pat on the head, or a controlling grip on the arm.

    6. Space
    Everyone needs some physical space, though how much may vary for each person and situation. For example, standing too close can make someone uncomfortable. But staying at too far a distance could seem uncaring or uninterested.

    7. Voice
    The tone and volume of your voice adds a lot of meaning to words. For example, imagine saying “fine” during a heated argument compared to saying it when you’re happy and content. The same word sounds completely different.

    6 nonverbal dementia communication techniques that help you connect

    1. Be patient and calm
    • Project a positive and calm attitude – it can help your older adult communicate more easily
    • Avoid body language that shows frustration, anger, or impatience
    • Try not to interrupt them
    • Give them your full attention
    When a situation is very frustrating, staying calm can be tough. In those cases, it’s worthwhile to step away for a minute to do some deep breathing or calming exercises so you can come back with a calm attitude. 

    That helps you avoid a situation where your tension or frustration could subconsciously influence your older adult’s responses or behavior.

    2. Keep voice, face, and body relaxed and positive
    • Have a pleasant or happy look on your face – a tense facial expression could cause distress and make communication more difficult
    • Keep your tone of voice positive and friendly

    3. Be consistent
    Avoid confusion by making sure your body language and facial expression match the words you’re speaking.

    4. Make eye contact and respect personal space

    • Approach from the front so they can see you coming and have a chance to process who you are and the fact that you’re going to interact with them
    • Don’t stand too close or stand over them – it can feel intimidating
    • Keep your face at or below their eye level, this helps them feel more in control of the situation
    • Make and maintain eye contact while having a conversation

    5. Use gentle touch to reassure
    Physical touch can give comfort and reassurance, but be sure to observe to make sure they’re comfortable with the touching.
    This could include:
    • Shaking hands
    • Patting or holding their hand
    • Patting or rubbing their shoulder or back
    • Putting an arm around them
    • Giving a hug

     6. Observe their nonverbal reactions
    Dementia may make it difficult for your older adult to express themselves verbally. Watch for signs of frustration, anger, or fear and adjust your responses and actions to calm or soothe as needed.

    Recommended for you:

    By DailyCaring Editorial Team

    Full Article & Source: 
    6 Nonverbal Dementia Communication Techniques Make Caregiving Easier

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    DES MOINES -- An independent review has found that a former Northwest Iowa judge improperly used proposed orders from lawyers as his final order in at least 13 cases dating back to 2011.

    The reviewers' report, released Friday, also found insufficient evidence to show that other judges in the 3rd Judicial District, which includes 16 Northwest Iowa counties, had solicited rulings from attorneys without notifying the attorneys for the opposing side.

    "I have read their thorough and comprehensive report and will now be acting on the recommendations," state court administrator Todd Nuccio said in a statement released with the report.

    Nuccio's statement gave no indication what actions will be taken or when. The report was released after state court administration offices had closed at 4:30 p.m., and Nuccio did not return a message seeking comment.

    Nuccio appointed retired state court administrator David Boyd and Senior Judge Robert Hutchison in March to review former District Judge Edward Jacobson's actions and determine to what extent he may have used ghostwritten orders obtained by ex parte communications -- those communications with only the attorney representing one side of the case -- without giving opposing attorneys a chance to review the proposed orders.

    The review's purpose was not to determine whether Jacobson had broken any laws or rules. Nuccio said that task would fall within other entities' jurisdictions.

    During an interview with Boyd and Hutchison, Jacobson, who retired last fall after 16 years on the bench, said he never believed he was doing anything improper when entering final rulings that were submitted by attorneys without notifying the opposing parties.

    Jacobson said the practice is common in South Dakota, where he practiced before moving to Iowa, and in Iowa. He told the reviewers that he sought the proposed orders only after he had decided a case, and no parties had ever gained an advantage by writing a ruling for him without the other party's knowledge.

    "He stated he only called upon a lawyer to write a ruling for him when he felt extreme time pressure," the reviewers wrote in their report.

    Jacobson's actions came to light after telling lawyers in a deposition taken in a Plymouth County divorce case that he had asked one of the attorneys to draft the final decree because he intended to rule in favor of her client. The attorney for the other party was not contacted, nor was she given a chance to review the decree before Jacobson signed it.

    Jacobson's actions in the divorce case have led to a motion to vacate the final decree.

    During the same deposition, Jacobson said that he had directed attorneys in approximately 200 cases during his judicial career to write the final ruling without notifying the opposing attorney.

    "If I made a decision, and all I want is somebody to put it on paper, I don't have any problem telling one counsel to do it without telling the other counsel I told them to do it," Jacobson said in the deposition.

    In his interview for the review, Jacobson clarified his remarks, saying that the number of 200 cases referred to all cases in which he had solicited proposed rulings from attorneys, not the number of cases in which he adopted an attorney's proposed order as his own.
    Independent review
    In addition to interviewing Jacobson, the independent panelists reviewed approximately 9,500 available archived emails Jacobson sent and received, interviewed his former court reporters and other 3rd District judicial officials and examined case records.

    Those reviews found 13 of Jacobson's rulings, most of them in family law cases, that raised concerns.

    In a 2017 Crawford County case, it was found that Jacobson had obtained a proposed ruling from an attorney and emailed it directly to his court reporter without showing it to the opposing counsel. The proposed ruling was entered word for word as the final ruling, the reviewers found.

    Other cases in which Jacobson's actions were deemed improper were heard in Woodbury, Plymouth and Monona counties.

    Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Cady in March filed a supervisory order reminding the state's judges they are not to privately solicit orders from attorneys without notifying the opposing side. He also ordered all judges to attend a continuing education course on the rules of ex parte communications.

    Among their recommendations, Boyd and Hutchison said all Iowa lawyers, in addition to judges, would benefit from continuing legal education sessions on the subject.

    The reviewers also said that if a judge wants to obtain proposed findings of fact and conclusions from lawyers, the request should be documented as made to both sides. Attorneys should file any requested document in the court's electronic filing system, rather than emailing it to the judge, so that it will be docketed and a notice of the filing sent to all parties in the case.

    Full Article & Source:
    Review finds judge filed inappropriate orders in 13 cases

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    An Ohio family is distraught after they say it took two weeks for someone to discover their loved one had died.

    According to WCPO, Paul Patterson, 77, moved into SEM Manor in Anderson Township after he suffered a stroke. He felt he needed to live somewhere where he could have more support.

    SEM Manor describes itself as a "retirement & assisted living facility" on its Facebook page.

    Patterson's family was stunned when they recently received a call from a detective stating that he had died.

    "Nobody ... should hear something like, 'Your brother has been dead for two weeks in an apartment,'" Patterson's sister, Martha McKee, said.

    The coroner told family members that Patterson's body had been decomposing for two weeks before anyone at the facility noticed he was dead. Management finally noticed when someone complained about the smell.

    "That it took somebody next door to say there's a foul odor is very upsetting," Foster said.

    SEM Manor declined to comment. A sign outside their facility indicates they receive taxpayer money through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

    According to the facility's website, residents receive scheduled transportation, activities and attention from a caring staff in exchange for 30 percent of their income.

    Patterson's family feels he was not taken care of.

    "Somebody laying there for two weeks, it's just wrong," McKee said.

    The sheriff's office said the death is still under investigation. The coroner's office has not yet determined a cause of death.

    Full Article & Source:
    Family: Retirement facility didn't notice man was dead for two weeks

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  • 06/04/18--22:00: Dignity in Old Age
  • We are not equal in old age.

    That's the tragic truth.

    As equal as we are in human dignity and value in God's sight, some are treated very differently, especially as age limits physical ability.

    Some have the advantage of family members who live nearby and can take time to be with them. Some have family with accessible homes who invite them in. Some have family who can ensure they have the best treatment in a senior residence.

    Some don't.

    Some have the advantage of money to pay for the best care.

    Some don't.

    In Huron, where I served before moving here, Medicaid-covered residents at the larger nursing home were two to a room, while others enjoyed single occupancy. When visiting people in nursing homes in Pierre, it is not hard to tell whose care is paid for by Medicaid. Often - not always, but often - that person's circumstances are worse.

    For a younger person, we might encourage them to work harder and make more money, but someone well past retirement age? I don't think so.

    Of Pierre's senior residences, assisted living facilities, and nursing homes, some are fantastic environments.

    Some are not.

    Caregivers and nursing home staff are well intentioned, work hard, and have so much kindness to share. But when staff are poorly treated or run ragged, residents are going to be poorly served.

    We deserve equal dignity in old age. From the Ten Commandments on, God has always affirmed that, and will hold anyone accountable for not treating people with the dignity they deserve.

    God commands "honor your father and mother that your days may be long in the land." So what can we do?

    1. Live with elderly parents.

    A friend of mine and her family are about to move into her mother's house to care for her in the midst of Parkinson's. That used to be common, but today it's rare. People living farther from parents as well as the economic realities of two income households and more irregular work hours make this harder, and the community (workplaces included) can support families in this. But there's also a cultural shift that needs to happen, and it's going to take bold people giving it a shot.

    2. Advocate for elders.

    There are some magnificent people who regularly volunteer their time to play music and visit people in nursing homes and assisting living. There ought to be more. Families and the professionals serving people are on the front lines, but the whole community can be invested in their well being.

    3. Don't tolerate exploitation.

    Exploiting elders for financial gain is an attack on the dignity of vulnerable people. God hates exploitation, and we should hate it too. Where we can, we should drive exploitation out of town, because we don't want that in our community.

    Never treat someone with anything less than full human dignity, especially for your own financial gain. Whether in good health or in infirmity, treat elderly parents, neighbors, and fellow Pierre residents with honor.

    Full Article & Source:
    Dignity in Old Age

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    The brother of a local attorney who is on the run from police after allegedly stealing millions of dollars from his personal injury clients is also in trouble with the law.

    According to court testimony Malcolm Snipes was picked up at his grandson’s Little League Championship game in Harris County after allegedly withdrawing thousands of dollars from a trust used for settlement funds that was supposed to be paid to his brother’s clients.

    The 74 year old brother and employee of William Snipes had five felony warrants for his arrest by the time Investigators caught up with him and more charges pending.

    A police detective told the judge the multi million dollar theft scam was a family affair with funds transferred into family members accounts and surveillance video from a local BB&T bank proves it.

    Malcolm Snipes made multiple withdrawals from that trust account, each time careful not to take more than ten thousand dollars , the threshold amount required to report to the IRS.

    His defense attorney Bobby Jones said Malcolm Snipes was a signature on the account even though the State Bar permits Licensed Attorneys only to hold such settlement accounts.

    Malcolm Snipes is not an attorney.

    “If I work for an attorney that did personal injury law and I was on the account and the attorney suggested  that I go get the money out of the account then I would go get the money out of the account if I was a non lawyer and didn’t know Bar rules,” attorney Robert Jones said.

    In a contentious back and forth with Prosecutors the defense attorney suggested the arrest of Malcolm Snipes was a mere ploy to find William Snipes whose been spotted in Mississippi and Alabama since the scandal broke.

    “Many times I’ve seen police put pressure on other people in order to squeeze them so to speak to either get evidence on the person they’re really after, the target of the investigation or to possibly get the target to come in because an innocent pawn so to speak has been arrested and they wouldn’t want that to happen to that person,” Jones said.

    As the wife of Malcolm Snipes appeared outside the courtroom, Some of her brother in law’s distraught clients appeared too, unable to contain their anger as they made their way from the parking lot

    Police say more than 30 victims have come forward to report their personal injury claims, now in the millions were ripped off.

    Full Article & Source:
    Brother of Local Attorney Charged with Theft

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    John Oliver exposed the troubling flaws of the guardianship system on Sunday's Last Week Tonight, detailing how court-appointed individuals often abuse their power while assisting people with mental or physical disabilities, particularly the elderly, who can't make responsible decisions about their health or finances.

    The comedian opened the exhaustive segment with some startling statistics. There are currently 49.2 million Americans aged 65 or older, and that figure is expected to surge in what some experts have dubbed the "Silver Tsunami." As ages rise, so does the need for guardianship, and 1.3 million people currently require such services.

    Guardians wield major power over the people under their care, or "wards" – since they're making important decisions about health and finances, they have access to people's bank accounts and health records.

    "Guardians can bill for each individual service they provide, from leaving voice messages to opening the mail. And they can take payment directly out of their ward's estate," Oliver said, exploring how the system often leads to absurd charges that can cripple a person's finances. In one egregious example, a guardian charged a woman for Phoenix Suns basketball tickets, tacking on $228 for determining the game's "effect on [her] mood." Another billed for 100 hours of services in a single day – a mathematic impossibility that Oliver anchored home with a science joke.

    "One hundred hours a day is not physically possible, unless she was working on the planet Mercury, where, as we all know, each day lasts 1,407 Earth hours," he said. "I'll be honest: That's a joke designed specifically for Neil deGrasse Tyson, so I do hope you enjoyed it, Dr. Tyson, because absolutely nobody else did."

    Dr. Tyson, in a pre-recorded response, interjected to question the definition of a "day" on Mercury, irritating Oliver. "Shut up, Neil! Shut up! Why do you have to ruin everything?" the host fumed, later throwing in a half-reference to Samantha Bee's Full Frontal "feckless cunt" controversy. "Just enjoy something for once in your fucking life! What is wrong with you, you feckless – oh, nevermind. It's not worth it."

    Oliver clarified that guardianship is the responsibility of state and local courts, "meaning in most places everything about it – from who becomes one to who they oversee to what they can charge is up to local charges, who may be elected and may have no legal training." In Texas, for example, county judges handle guardianship decisions, and only 29 of them are lawyers. Equally shocking, only 12 states require professional guardians to be certified at all.

    With the "Silver Tsunami" approaching, Oliver said, it's crucial to outline with your family how your care and finances should be handled in such a scenario. To iron home that point, Last Week Tonight recruited a group of famous seniors – William Shatner, Cloris Leachman, Lily Tomlin, Fred Willard and Rita Moreno – to offer some pointers about aging, or not. "You may not age at all," they said. "You may die tonight, young, by getting hit by lightning or eating too many Tide pods or getting killed by a hippo. That's actually a lot more likely than you think."

    The celebrities recommended selecting someone to serve as a health care representative and "durable power-of-attorney" should the need arise. Their suggestion? National treasure Tom Hanks.

    Full Article & Source:
    John Oliver Explains How Legal Guardians Abuse Their Power

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    7:00 pm/CST.... 8:00 pm/EST

    Tonight we will be discussing what you need to know to protect not only yourself, but also your loved ones, especially the elderly from the growing efforts to cull and euthanize as many as possible using legal and medical means. Hospice in most cases, is no longer the Good Samaritan and has instead become the weapon of choice for prematurely ending the lives of those unfortunate enough to find themselves in one of these facilities or, under Hospice care in a hospital.

    Do you know what a Patients Protective Medical Directive is? Why you should have one?


    Do you know what a "Living Will" really is? Did you know that it is actually an advanced directive for assisted suicide/euthanasia?

    Hospice Discharge, Revocation and Transfers

    Medicare Benefit Policy Manual (CMS Pub. 100-02), Ch. 9, §20.2

    The Medicare hospice benefit is only available to beneficiaries who are terminally ill. A hospice may discharge a beneficiary in certain situations. A beneficiary or representative may choose to revoke the election of hospice care at any time.

    This and much more "need to know" info tonight with Carly Walden

    LISTEN LIVE or listen to the archive later!

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    Gail J. Rymer
    LITTLE HOCKING — A clinical psychologist from Little Hocking was inducted Thursday into the 2018 class of the Ohio Senior Citizens Hall of Fame.

    Working with older adults, Gail J. Rymer realized the barriers to health care for seniors were notable and was shocked by the conditions of state mental hospitals where elders comprised more than half the population. At the time, many were restrained and had little if any cognitive stimulation.

    Rymer wrote articles exposing the poor conditions and mobilized families and others to lobby for mental health changes.

    She continued to advocate, starting programs such as “We Care,” a hotline for elders and others to call when in need of assistance or services. She helped start and hopes to expand the Southeast Ohio Elder Abuse Commission to educate the public that elder abuse is a rapidly growing crime in America.

    “I hope that I have, in some way, touched the lives of others by my actions and words so they might know the spirit of love,” she said. “I know that I have walked with many as they struggled, and I was fortunate to see many grow and blossom.”

    The Hall of Fame is a project of the Ohio Department of Aging to recognize the achievements and contributions of older Ohioans. More than 450 people have been inducted since 1977.

    Rymer received her bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees from Ohio University. Her career began with jobs in health planning and the ministry.

    She saw there were few opportunities in the community for older adults to feel valued, loved and engaged and organized efforts to visit elders and host senior luncheons and fellowship meetings. Rymer collaborated with other churches and their congregations to help and started food banks and Christmas Day dinners for those who were alone during the holidays.

    Rymer after she received her doctorate worked in community mental health then opened her private practice. Her practice focuses on services to the elderly while advocating for their quality of life.

    She is an elder in the Presbyterian Church and a lay pastor of a rural church. Rymer works with churches to complete home modifications and repairs for seniors. In October 2017, volunteers made 19 homes safe and accessible for older residents.

    Rymer also is working with churches and other organizations to write ethical statements and guidelines to prevent elder abuse and exploitation and to support broader mandatory reporting requirements.

    She plans to write a children’s book with junior high school students about a severely abused Pug, Liberty, which she rehabilitated. Rymer belongs to multiple professional and civic organizations and has had many community leadership roles, including the Attorney General’s Elder Justice Unit as a board member.

    Rymer and her husband, Donald, met at Ohio University and are looking forward to celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary by dancing in the streets of Santorini, Greece.

    Full Article & Source:
    Little Hocking woman placed in Ohio Senior Citizens Hall of Fame

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    Click to Watch Video
    "I assured my clients that the prosecutor was working on it and something probably would happen," Ruday Veit,, the DeBrodie family's attorney said. "And it has."

    Fulton Police arrested five people associated with the Carl DeBrodie case.

    “I knew a long time ago that charges would be filed because I saw the documents,” Veit said. “I had been anticipating that for a long time they were going to make an arrest, it's just a matter of when the prosecutor could coordinate with the other parties involved in the case."

    Veit said this process has taken a long time.

    “Its been a while and each step shows that somebody is doing something and someone cares,” he said.

    Veit said these charges set a precedent for care facilities across the state.

    "One of the things we want to do is make sure this action doesn’t happen again, and by him prosecuting them all it sets a good message to other facilities not to do this kind of conduct,” Veit said.

    Veit thinks the charges for this case will be staying, ”In this case the evidence is pretty clear that these charges will be met In every one of these cases.”

    Veit said these criminal charges do not affect the civil case with the DeBrodie family.

    “It should not affect the outcome, but it will help us reach the goals we want to reach,” Veit said. "Except now I know where to find them."

    Former Cole County Prosecutor Bill Tackett said that civil and criminal cases are "different animals" and agrees that the new charges wouldn't affect really affect the civil case. Fulton police already said they didn't find evidence DeBrodie was forced to fight other residents of the group home, even though the civil suit accuses that.

    "When you file a civil suit, you're making allegations. If you make a fact, you make exaggerate that fact and it's accepted within the bounds of a civil lawsuit," he said. "With criminal law, you have to be very specific. You're talking about putting someone in prison, taking away their liberties. In civil law, you're talking about taking away their money. Nobody goes to jail with civil law."

    Full Article & Source:
    Carl DeBrodie case: Family attorney says the charges didn't surprise him

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    It is a New Yorker’s nightmare: losing all that a family has worked for, even down to the place they call home. But what if it was all taken in the name of protection?

    Ann Masotti, a born-and-raised Bronxite, says that she and her 31 year-old daughter have been “exiled” to Texas in the wake of a protracted legal battle over the estate of her late ex-husband, Vito. Ann and Vito adopted Andrea, nicknamed Andi, from Hungary when she was six years old. Andi is autistic, and during the year after Vito’s death in 2006 she experienced mental health troubles and became suicidal. She was hospitalized multiple times and could not seem to stabilize.

    Ann found a residential facility about 50 miles north of the city that she believed could help, and sought to place Andi there. However, this placement would have cost more than Ann says she could reasonably afford. Ann asked the Westchester County Surrogate’s Court to allow her to withdraw funds from Vito’s estate to pay for Andi’s treatment. Vito had always intended for his estate to go to his daughter, says Ann, and after he was diagnosed with cancer he set up a will and trust with his long-time tax attorney specifying that intent.

    There was one major problem. In 2005, Joseph Pisani, a former state senator and lawyer who had previously been disbarred on federal charges of fraud, embezzlement, and tax evasion, had cozied up to Vito in his last months. Pisani and Vito had changed the will and named Pisani as Executor and Trustee of the estate, including a rental property that reportedly generated revenue income substantial enough to sustain Andi for the rest of her life. Pisani refused to release any of the funds. Instead, he drained them, dissipating accounts and paying himself and other attorneys he hired with the money from Andrea’s estate.

    Pisani claimed in court records that he was looking after Andrea’s well-being and had her best interests in mind. As a fiduciary Pisani was supposed to file an accounting of the estate with the court when requested and upon closing, but the one accounting Pisani did file in 10 years was rejected by the court and never corrected.

    Ann tried every legal remedy she could think of, including applying for legal guardianship of her adult daughter under Article 81 of the Mental Hygiene Law, but nothing succeeded in removing Pisani’s hold over the accounts. Even after Ann successfully had Pisani removed as Trustee, the court kept him on as Executor. Meanwhile, as Andi bounced from facility to facility, Ann paid for her daughter’s care out of her own pocket. After Andi’s last stint at a facility in Houston, they settled in Texas, unable to afford to return to New York.

    “Nobody could make up this stuff,” says Masotti. “It’s worse than any crime novel that you could pick up. And it’s true.”

    Hopes for action dashed

    Ann Masotti took her complaints to the New York State Attorney General’s office twice. The first time, in 2008, the office was headed by Andrew Cuomo. In a phone call, Ann says, his office responded that they had deemed her detailed, documented complaint to be without merit. The second time, in 2014, Masotti addressed her complaint to Eric Schneiderman. The response on his behalf came from the office’s Public Integrity Bureau: By their determination the complaint did not warrant action. The office did not provide a reason.

    Now, more alleged victims of guardianship abuse and trust fraud have come forward to say that Schneiderman’s office refused to investigate their complaints, even after reaching out to them directly in an apparent show of good faith. Lately, Albany has been talking about fixing the state’s adult guardianship system, which even a longstanding judge says is “broken,” but victims have yet to experience relief or see justice. As a new Attorney General takes the helm, will justice be served?

    “The Attorney General’s Office is the chief law enforcement officer for the state. It’s their responsibility to accept and process complaints for serious infractions,” says Dr. Sam Sugar, founder of Americans Against Abusive Probate Guardianship. “When they establish a policy of ignoring complaints that are well-documented, they are breaking their own laws and their oath to uphold the constitution of the United States and the constitutions of their individual states, all of whom make it clear that discrimination against anyone for any reason is illegal.”

    The Attorney General’s Office and Governor Cuomo’s office did not respond to requests for comment.

    Guardianship is a legal system designed to protect people who are incapable of managing their own personal, medical, and/or financial affairs due to mental or physical disability. Under Article 81 of New York’s Mental Hygiene Law, a person concerned with the welfare of an individual can commence a proceeding in court. From there, a judge makes a determination that the individual is incapacitated and appoints a guardian for the person. The guardian then has the legal authority to make decisions regarding the person’s property and/or care, depending upon whether they are guardians of personal needs, property management, or both. Article 81 directs guardians to consider the needs and wishes of the individual and choose the “least restrictive” interventions. The guardian can be discharged if the court is satisfied that the guardianship is no longer necessary, if the person becomes capable of managing their own affairs again, or if the person dies.

    According to Michele Gartner, Esq., Special Counsel for Surrogate & Fiduciary Matters in the Office of Court Administration, there are more than 17,000 active open Article 81 guardianship cases in the state of New York. Richard Black, director of the Center for Estate Administration Reform, estimates that there are closer to 60,000 to 80,000 adults currently in guardianship in the state. Black’s estimate includes adult guardianship cases that would not fall under Article 81, such as Article 17-A guardianships in Surrogate’s Court. Black estimates that 5 to 10 percent of adult guardianships are fraudulent to some extent, costing victims and their families approximately $10 billion nationwide each year.

    Although abuse cases vary, the pattern typically includes a declaration of incompetence by a judge, the appointment of a guardian — in New York, when not a family member, the guardian is generally an attorney from an approved list — and the isolation of the individual, either in their own home or in a nursing home or other facility. At that point, a person is nearly powerless against any personal care and/or financial decisions the guardian chooses to take. A guardian can enrich his/herself by billing fees for his/her time to the person’s estate, and in the absence of sufficient supervision of a guardian’s activities — for example, if he/she chooses not to submit proper accounting of the estate to the court, or if a court evaluator does not carefully review the accounting reports — there is potential for mishandling of assets.

    Alleged: that $3M was taken

    One such case is the nearly 13-year ordeal of Bertha Kornicki. In 2004, Bertha and her husband Manny reportedly discovered that their daughter Terri had been taking money from their accounts without their knowledge. In total, Terri was alleged to have stolen approximately $3 million from her parents over seven years. In order to protect Bertha, who had Alzheimer’s, from future exploitation, Manny and his other daughter Marian sought guardianship over Bertha under Article 81. Instead, the judge appointed as guardian attorney Ellyn Kravitz, who was unknown to the family, and agreed to appoint Bertha’s cousin Rudy Shur as co-guardian.

    Marian alleges that Kravitz never marshaled the family’s assets, which allowed Terri to take more, and did not visit Bertha or attend to her personal needs. Kravitz also failed to file a final accounting when she stepped down as co-guardian.

    Eventually Kravitz was replaced by another lawyer, and then another. The court received bills for the guardians’ time at rates as high as $400 and $600 per hour for tasks as menial as responding to emails and reviewing receipts. These fees were paid from Bertha’s estate. Over more than 12 years and a succession of numerous guardians, lawyers, and accountants, the estate of Bertha and Manny Kornicki trickled out. Some of the funds went to Terri, who by then had been arrested on felony theft charges and entered into a plea bargain (the grand larceny charges were dismissed, citing Manny’s death and the lack of a legally sufficient case by the DA, and she pleaded guilty to offering a false instrument for filing, a misdemeanor.)

    Now, there is almost nothing left. Meanwhile, Marian charges that the guardians did nothing to help with her mother’s day-to-day care, so Marian took it over after her father’s death. “I came to the judiciary system for help because I was a victim of elder abuse and I feel that I am being treated in an abusive way by the very system I am seeking help from,” wrote Manny to the judge in 2005.

    A representative for Kravitz provided the following statement: “As an elder law attorney in practice for 25 years, I’ve always held myself and my work to the highest legal and ethical standards. Any suggestion to the contrary is incorrect and misinformed.”

    Marian wrote to and called the Attorney General’s office multiple times in recent years and was disappointed when the office’s only response was to forward her complaint to the Office of Court Administration, where it languished.

    In recent months, conversations with Assistant Attorney General Sean Courtney and Legal Intern Micheleen C. Karnacewicz in the Public Integrity Bureau raised her hopes for action. However, other victims recently told Black, who also spoke with Courtney and Karnacewicz about nine additional cases in the state, that the office was refusing to help them after an initial conversation, so Kornicki and Black are not optimistic that the office will pursue their complaints.

    Their remaining hope lies with the AG’s Charities Bureau, which Black says reached out to him May 24th requesting more information.

    Bertha passed away on May 8th, the same day Attorney General Schneiderman resigned. Now, Marian hopes that the family’s guardianship ordeal will end, but first she has to wait and see if the deed to her parents’ house will be released to her. The current guardian, Deborah Rosenthal, was supposed to turn it over to Marian two years ago as part of a settlement between the sisters. Rosenthal instead proposed that a reverse mortgage be taken out on the house to increase the money in the guardianship account. Marian, who has been very active throughout nearly 13 years of guardianship proceedings, now hesitates to take any more action to obtain the deed because she fears that the legal process will drain what’s left of the estate. Says Marian, “As soon as you do something, everyone starts billing you.”

    Rosenthal refused to comment on the allegations, but said, “Despite the court requesting that she do so, a law requesting that she do so, [Marian Kornicki] refused to provide the court and her sister information regarding her mother’s burial arrangements. It’s required by law. If you’re going to go and start criticizing people I think that’s an obvious criticism.”

    A national issue

    Guardianship and trust abuse are well-documented locally and nationally. In October 2017, The New Yorker covered guardianship abuse in Nevada, telling the story of an older couple removed from their home through guardianship proceedings. In New York state, a 2016 study estimated statewide losses due to financial exploitation of the elderly at a whopping $1.5 billion; of those cases, 15 percent involved power of attorney abuse, 6 percent involved fraud, and 4 percent involved denial of access to assets. Within the city, thefts from guardianships have been reported for more than a decade. Although abuse cases vary, the pattern typically includes a declaration of incompetence by a judge, the appointment of a guardian — in New York, when not a family member, the guardian is generally an attorney from an approved list — and the isolation of the individual, either in their own home or in a nursing home or other facility. From there, a person is nearly powerless against any medical and/or financial decisions the guardian chooses to take.

    Errol Rappaport of Manhattan says that his mother, Frances, age 100, has been moved from her long-time home at 200 Central Park South to a place in Queens and the apartment sold after a dispute between Rappaport and his two brothers. Rappaport has reportedly been prevented from seeing his mother except with 48 hours’ advance notice, for a visit of up to two hours. Each visit is requested by email, for which the guardian, Madeleine Egelfeld, bills for 15 to 20 minutes at a rate of $450 per hour.

    Egelfeld was paid at least $12,000 to $20,000 per year beginning in 2013, and hired Ellyn Kravitz as her own counsel in the matter for a sum of $123,139 as of January 2018. Egelfeld also billed for hours spent communicating with Kravitz, so that both were paid for the same time spent, a common practice known as double-billing. Through this process and a separate matter in Surrogate’s Court, Rappaport has been removed from the home where he was staying with his mother and has been unable to access his portion of the estate, which he says was to be split equally among the brothers, and is now homeless and couch-surfing at age 74.

    Rappaport’s brothers declined to comment. Egelfeld did not respond to a request for comment.

    On January 8, the New York State Senate held a round table on guardianship. Present at the round table were judges — including Kornicki’s judge, Hon. Arthur M. Diamond — and lawyers, practitioners, and senators. Attendees lamented a lack of data surrounding guardianship in New York as well as a lack of funding to pay guardians and court evaluators in guardianship cases. No victims of guardianship abuse were invited to speak.

    Meanwhile, Ann Masotti is her daughter’s legal guardian under Article 81, yet she was unable to protect Andrea from an unscrupulous executor. It seems that this system, although designed to protect some of the most vulnerable, can fail when used by a family member in good faith but enable abuse by those who use it for personal gain.

    A few years ago, Masotti and an accountant pored over financial documents submitted by Pisani to the court and found what she believes is a smoking gun: Pisani had deposited funds intended for Andrea’s escrow account into his own private bank account. Masotti went to her District Attorney, Janet DiFiore, who is now Chief Judge of New York. By the time that office got back to her, the statute of limitations on her case against Pisani had run out. Pisani died in 2016.

    “There was far more care taken to protect Joseph Pisani, the felon, than to protect Andrea Masotti, the disabled young woman,” says Ann Masotti. Because the system is so entrenched and no one at the county or state level would take up her complaints, Masotti declares, “There was going to be no day of reckoning for Joe Pisani.”

    Full Article & Source:
    They Say Legal Guardians Ripped Them Off—and the State AG Let Them Down

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    FULTON, Mo. - New allegations released in a civil lawsuit reveal Carl DeBrodie was forced to physically fight another resident for the "benefit and amusement of Paulo and her family," those events eventually causing his death. Sherry Paulo was the manager of Second Chance Homes, where Carl was living before he died.

    As a result of these forced fighting engagements, Carl suffered serious injuries, including at least six broken ribs. Carl also regularly suffered black eyes and other bruising.

    Sometime after October 25, 2016, but before November 24, 2016, Carl and a resident stayed overnight at Paulo's residence to sleep in the basement on the concrete floor. During the middle of the night, Anthony Flores, Paulo's husband and employee of Second Chance homes, was awakened by Carl's scream. Carl was found unresponsive and convulsing on the floor of the basement, appearing to have a seizure.

    Documents say instead of calling 911 or other emergency assistance, Flores and the resident carried Carl upstairs and placed him in a bathtub with the shower running. Carl was bleeding from his nose and mouth and continued to convulse in the bathtub. Documents say "no life-saving measures were attempted that night with respect to Carl, Carl died as a result of the episode. Carl remained in the bathtub for two or three days until he was ultimately placed into the City of Fulton trash can, encased in concrete, and placed into a storage unit."

    Court documents say for several months leading up to October 2016, Sherry Paulo, group home manager would regularly and frequently take Carl and another facility resident to overnight at her own personal residence in Fulton. Paulo allegedly forced Carl to stay at her own personal residence, require him to perform manual, unpaid labor around her home.

    Carl and another resident were forced to stay and sleep in Paulo's basement, where no beds or mattresses were provided.

    On April 17, 2017, the Fulton Police Department received a missing report for Carl, who had gone missing from the Facility.

    Due to the decomposition of Carl's body, it was determined he had been missing and/or deceased for several months before the missing person report was filed.

    The names below are the defendants in the case:
    • Second Chance Homes of Fulton, LLC
      • Rachael Rowden, Owner
      • Sherry Paulo, Manager
      • Anthony Flores, Sr., Employee and husband of Paulo
    • Callaway County Public Administrator's Office
      • Karen Digh Allen, Callaway County Public Administrator
      • Robin Rees Love, Employee
    • Missouri Department of Mental Health
      • Mark Stringer, Director
    • Missouri Department of Mental Health - Division of Developmental Disabilities
      • Valerie Huhn, Director
      • Wendy Witcig, Deputy Director, Community Operations
      • Marcy Volner, Assistant Director of Central Region
      • Wendy Davis, Director of Central Missouri Regional Office
    • Callaway County Special Services (CCSS)
      • Julia Kaufmann, Executive Director
      • Melissa Delap, Employee and Carl's community RN
      • Tiffany Keipp, Employee and Carl's case manager
    Keipp and Delap were required to report to appropriate authorities, including the Department of Mental Health and the Department of Mental Health Division of Disabilities, any suspicions or allegations of physical abuse, sexual abuse, verbal abuse, or neglect of Carl, and also any misuse of Carl’s funds or property.

    For several months leading up to Carl’s reported disappearance, Allen, Love, Keipp,Rowden and Paulo prevented the plaintiffs in the case, Carolyn Summers and Carol Samson, from seeing or visiting with Carl.

    Instead of conducting the required face-to-face contact, Keipp and Delap made false reports saying that face-to-face contact was made with Carl.

    In her false reports, Keipp said she had made face-to-face contact with Carl in October 2016, November 2016, December 2016, January 2017, February 2017 and March 2017. None of these meetings took place.

    Delap said in her false report she had made face-to-face contact with Carl in October 2016, November 2016, December 2016, January 2017, February 2017 and March 2017. These meetings also never took place.

    In 2016, Second Chance, Rowden, Paulo and Delap did not submit consistent monthly reports about Carl to Keipp, CCSS, Allen, Love and the Public Administrator.

    Keipp and Love did not make contact with Carl to check on his health and well-being, even though Paulo reported Carl was not in good health.

    Keipp and Love were aware of verbal abuse towards Carl, but didn't report it. They were also aware of physical abuse occurring between Carl and another resident that they didn't report.

    Rowden, Paulo, Keipp, Delap and Love waited several months to report Carl’s disappearance so they could continue to receive and collect state and federal monies for the provision of residential services for Carl, according to the court document.

    To read the entire document, click below:

    Full Article & Source:
    Carl DeBrodie was killed by injuries from forced fighting, court documents reveal graphic details

    See Also:
    Carl DeBrodie case: Family attorney says the charges didn't surprise him

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