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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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    Lashron Williams and Phygelle Brudent
    BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. — Two Florida nursing home employees are charged with using duct tape to restrain and quiet a patient with dementia.

    Boynton Beach police said in a news release Friday that 52-year-old Lashron Williams and 44-year-old Phygelle Brudent, who worked at Regal Park Assisted Living Facility, duct-taped a 67-year-old woman to a chair and used tape to cover her mouth. They were arrested Thursday and charged with elder abuse and false imprisonment. 

    Detectives say Brudent confessed to duct-taping the victim July 3, telling them the woman wouldn’t remain quiet. 

    Williams told police Brudent duct-taped the victim. She said she uncovered the patient’s mouth to give her sleeping pills. She said she told Brudent it was wrong to duct-tape patients, but did not report her. 

    Both were being held Friday at the Palm Beach County Jail on $3,000 bail.

    Full Article & Source:
    Cops: Nursing home workers duct-taped patient to chair

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    Attorney General Josh Shapiro
    The legislation expands prosecutorial powers to go after those who abuse a care-dependent person.

    Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro praised a Berks County lawmaker during a luncheon Friday for his work passing legislation that expands prosecutorial powers to go after those who abuse a care-dependent person.

    That legislation, signed into law by the governor last month, had been introduced every session since 2007.

    Shapiro credited the legislative success to the bill's sponsor, state Rep. Jim Cox, a Spring Township Republican, Chief Deputy Attorney General Laurie Malone's doggedness and the Reading Eagle's reporting.

    “It's hard to get a bill passed,” Shapiro said after his remarks. “It is really hard, especially with all the competing interests, even if it's a subject matter like this that you think can draw strong bipartisan support. But (Cox) stayed with it and he got it done.”

    Although tasked with investigating and prosecuting fraud, abuse and neglect, Pennsylvania did not have statutory provisions to prosecute abuse.

    On June 28, Gov. Tom Wolf signed Act 53 into law, amending the criminal statute to include language that adds abuse of a care-dependent person, as well as neglect resulting in death.

    Elder abuse can take many forms and can be physical, emotional, sexual or through neglect or financial exploitation.

    First introduced by former state Rep. Mauree Gingrich in 2007 after residents at a Lebanon County assisted living home were fed rotten food and put to work stuffing newspaper inserts, the bill's earlier versions had passed the House but languished in the Senate.

    Cox said the media attention helped push the bill along in the Senate.

    “The focus I had, essentially, is we've got to care for those who can't protect themselves,” said Cox. “When push came to shove, I couldn't let the abuse continue.”

    The new law goes into effect Aug. 27.

    Elder abuse is on the rise. Pennsylvania Department of Health data show substantiated abuse in nursing homes more than tripled from 2012 to 2016, the latest available.

    The problem is only expected to worsen as baby boomers turn 65.

    According to federal data, the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General has prosecuted the lowest percentage of patient care cases of all states.

    State and local officials expressed high hopes Friday that the amended statute would change that.

    The new law, however, stops short of including penalties for those who fail to report suspected abuse to law enforcement. It's a problem the Eagle identified in a November investigation that found these crimes frequently go unreported.

    Berks lawmakers acknowledged Friday that more needs to be done.

    “This is just a landing point,” said state Sen. Judy Schwank, a Ruscombmanor Township Democrat. “We have more to do, but it's a good start.”

    The Berks County Area Agency on Aging hosted Friday's luncheon, its second annual symposium, at the Inn at Reading, Wyomissing, with the goal of educating those who work in the aging and criminal justice systems to better recognize elder abuse.

    Roughly 80 people attended, including Dr. C. Eve Kimball. A West Reading pediatrician for more than five decades, Kimball said elder abuse education should be regarded as being as important as training and reporting requirements for those who work with abused children.

    “As a physician, I have not received any training in how to identify or report elder abuse,” Kimball told Shapiro during a question-and-answer session facilitated by Berks District Attorney John T. Adams. “I think we need it badly.”

    Full Article & Source:
    State attorney general praises new law expanding prosecutions of elder abuse

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    After the above article was published detailing elder abuse by professional guardians in Northern Michigan, I visited the Oakland County Probate Court to watch a June 27 hearing on a petition for visitation brought by Mimi Brun who has not seen her mother Virginia Wahab for the two-years since Mimi’s power of attorney was tossed out Wahab had been assigned a professional guardian Jon Munger.What is happening in Oakland County is systemic and in literally hundreds of pages of documents I have already collected, I am seeing the same pattern in multiple cases involving at least six professional attorney/guardians there and three out of the four judges.

    The guardians are alerted to a new admission by a nursing home with whom they have a downstream relationship. The nursing home then files a petition for guardianship which is granted by an Oakland County judge regardless of an existing power of attorney or whether or not the senior or his/her/their family is represented by counsel. The guardian then immediately halts visitation by the family members. In complete control of his ward’s medical and financial life, he proceeds to strip the estate, sell the house at far below market cost and bill the ward thousands. Within months, the ward has been declared both incapacitated and destitute. The guardian then applies for Medicaid benefits on behalf of the nursing home. Both the guardian and the nursing home make a tremendous profit while the ward is left to rot, often in a substandard facility.

    In the Wahab case, detailed in the article, the reason that Munger had been assigned was stated as a past due-bill owed Lourdes and a need for the organization to apply for Medicaid benefits for Wahab. There is no Michigan statute that allows for a petition to be made or a guardian to be assigned because a nursing facility is owed money. 


    Munger has kept Wahab at Lourdes in almost total isolation. However, on the 27th, she had been brought to the court while her daughter’s petition was heard. Wahab was surrounded by at least five Lourdes staff members including the organization’s CEO Maureen Comer. As soon as Munger saw my media badge, he left the court. He was instead represented by his attorney Joseph Ehrlich. Neither would answer any of my questions.

    Once mother and daughter were finally together, both were in tears. Wahab repeated, again and again, that she wanted to go home with her daughter; that she did not want to remain at Lourdes any more.

    Less than two minutes passed before Ehrlich suddenly barged toward the two and violently ripped the wheel chair from Brun. Virginia was visibly jolted by the experience.

    “My turn,” Ehrlich said.

    There was a court security camera directly behind us. The incident was witnessed by a half-dozen people. Brun screamed in pain and rage and tried to push Ehrlich away from her mother. He was smiling as a Lourdes aide quickly took Wahab back in to the court room. Even though Ehrlich was neither Wahab’s guardian nor an employee at Lourdes he would later state in a police report that he had been “asked by Lourdes staff to retrieve Virginia.”

    In that same report, Ehrlich charged Brun with assault. The report stated that the court’s cameras were not functioning during the incident. Two of the witness statements are missing. Fortunately, I had my own camera rolling. Following a subpoena, that footage is now in the hands of Brun’s attorney.

    In court, Brun’s attorney argued that there was no legal reason to keep the two apart and that their love was clearly evident. When Ehrlich addressed presiding Judge Linda Hallmark, his statements made during a 20-minute monologue were replete with inaccuracies including the date that Munger received guardianship. He stated it as June 19, 2016. It was actually ten days later. Yet, Hallmark refused to grant the visitation. Ehrlich instead called for and was granted an evidentiary hearing July 30. Wahab was immediately transported back to Lourdes. Neither she nor her daughter were permitted to speak.

    June 27 was petition day at the Oakland County Court. As soon as people saw my press badge, I was approached by at least 15-20 different families all begging me to write about their case. It was as if I had carried a loaf of bread into a village of starving people. Midway through the morning, I was escorted out of the building by at least a half-dozen sheriff’s deputies who were acting on orders of the courts judicial attorney Ryan Deel’s claims that I had not been given permission by the clerk of the court to be there.

    I don’t think they were concerned about such an action any more than the Detroit AG Bill Schuette, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder or Oakland County’s senators and house reps were interested in commenting about the issue. They know what I know I know – that the story will go away because it isn’t considered worthy of mass-media attention. The simple truth of American culture is that if my story had been about a 9-year-old girl and not a 94-year-old woman, this would be all over the internet and OpEds across national print and online outlets would be apoplectic in their demand that something be done about Oakland County.

    The truth no one wants to admit is that this country has been and will always be a place for the young. It does not serve you to be old in America. Now that the boomers are gathering for what has been termed a “silver tsunami,” the gravy train presently running smack through the center of the Oakland County Probate Court is about to become endless in length.

    These boomers face the same fate as Wahab and countless others before them because we are not at a place in America where people are given a chance to look beyond the news that is told because it is popular and focus on the news that must be told because it isn’t.

    So here is the news that isn’t. Here is what we do not want to know:

    According to an Oakland County case load report, total dispositions of guardianship and conservatorship cases numbered over 1,900 in 2017 alone.

    An anonymous source inside Oakland County Probate told me that Munger has had well over 1,600 wards from past and present cases.

    I’m going to carry on regardless. If I have to I’ll bet the farm on getting this story finished and the word out about these Probate Courts because something has to be done and someone has to try.

    “There was an emperor who asked a shepherd’s boy, ‘How many seconds in eternity?’ The shepherd’s boy replied ‘There’s this mountain of pure diamond. It takes an hour to climb it, and an hour to go around it! Every hundred years, a little bird comes and sharpens its beak on the diamond mountain. And when the entire mountain is chiseled away, the first second of eternity will have passed!’ You must think that’s a heck of a long time. Personally, I think that’s a heck of a bird.”

    Full Article & Source:
    Guardians from Hell: Part 2 Update into Investigation of systemic guardianship abuse in Northern Michigan

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    In 2016, the Oakland County Probate Court in Michigan took Virginia Jean Wahab- a 94 year old woman away from her family and placed her in Lourdes Nursing Home where she is held against her will.

    According to a Tablet Magazine article:

    Jean was taken away from her daughter Mimi and given a state appointed  guardian Jon Munger because of a past due bill owed to the nursing home where she'd been going for short term rehab.

    No evidence was presented at the hearing.

    Jean was not in court to speak for herself.

    Mimi was not permitted legal representation.

    The Judge Linda Hallmark threw out Jean's power of attorney which had named Mimi as her caregiver and replaced it with Jon Munger without giving a reason.

    Jon Munger has billed Jean over $6,000 in a three month period.

    Jon Munger is trying to take the family home away. 

    Jon Munger has broken into the home five times and taken everything of value from it. He locked Mimi out of her home without a valid court order. No hearing was issued before he got it.

    He then billed Virginia for the locksmith!

    Jon Munger has a bad history of doing this to other people.He has been sued numerous times and fired as a public administrator. Oakland County Probate Court has been investigated by Michigan TV station WXYZ for doing this to other families.

    Jean and Mimi have not been allowed to see each other for two years. Jean keeps asking to go home and be with her daughter.

    Jean's family says she needs and wants to go home. An independent investigator who looked into the case said “To isolate and prohibit an aging Mother from seeing her daughter is heartbreaking to this GAL. Mimi Brun has priority under the statute and is Virginia’s choice to be her Guardian.”

    Why is Jean being held against her will by Jon Munger? Why was she denied a lawyer? Why was a guardian assigned because of a past due bill?

    Lawyers have said that what Jon Munger and the Oakland County courts are doing is illegal.

    Sign the petition! Help Jean go home. Tell Rick Snyder and Attorney General Bill Schuette to end the corruption at Oakland County Probate Court which is illegally tearing American families apart and robbing them of everything they own.

    Full Article & Source:
    Release Jean Wahab- an American senior citizen imprisoned for no crime.

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    Mayor John Tecklenburg should have known better than to loan himself without court permission $80,000 from accounts he controlled as conservator for an elderly former neighbor. Probate Judge Irvin Condon was right to remove Mr. Tecklenburg from the conservatorship after his violation of state law.

    Mishandling Johnnie Wineglass’ finances showed the job should have been done by a professional. The mayor, a real estate agent by trade, said he did not know he needed court permission to loan himself the money.

    “I think you meant well, but we can’t set a precedent of self-dealing,” the judge told Mr. Tecklenburg on Tuesday. Mr. Condon’s remark about “self-dealing” particularly stung Mr. Tecklenburg and could have an impact on his professional life.

    The mayor agreed to become the woman’s conservator in 2008 — for free — when she started losing her memory and became unable to manage her money. He took out loans of $20,000 in 2011 and $35,000 in 2014 to benefit his wife’s gift shop, which was later sold; a third loan of $25,000 was taken out in 2016 to help him cover living expenses as he transitioned into the job of mayor. All the loans were repaid on time, with 5 percent interest, including an additional $877.22.

    Mr. Tecklenburg also used $25,000 of the woman’s money to buy an Edisto Island tax sale property in 2011 and then sold it back to the original owner, yielding a $3,000 profit for her. Special conservators appointed by the court called it a risky move with the potential of leaving the woman with property that could have been difficult to convert into cash to pay her bills.

    In the end, no harm was done to Ms. Wineglass’ finances. And by all accounts, Mr. Tecklenburg took on the job out of the goodness of his heart. But he should have sought legal advice about lending himself money. It was a case of big-hearted bad judgment.

    In his official capacity, we expect the mayor to be more careful. Mr. Tecklenburg is the leader of the state’s largest city and plays a major role in how it brings in and spends its funds. It’s critical that the public have confidence in his judgment as well as his ability to handle money and follow the law. He will need to work hard to earn back any confidence lost as a result of this episode.

    A report prepared for the judge by the special conservators recommended Mr. Tecklenburg continue to manage the woman’s money, as did two of her goddaughters. But Judge Condon was right to remove the mayor from the job. Violating the law is reason enough, even if no harm was done. Being mayor affords Mr. Tecklenburg no special consideration, and the judge would be expected to handle similar cases in the same manner.

    Full Article & Source: 
    Editorial: Mayor's big-hearted bad judgment

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    The former Gatesway Foundation aide also faces exploitation accusation


    A former court-ordered guardian of adults with intellectual disabilities at the Gatesway Foundation has been accused of embezzling about $180,000 from people under her guardianship, according to court documents.

    Charges were expected to be filed against Leslie Mansfield, who was responsible for clients of the Gatesway Foundation, a Broken Arrow nonprofit that serves adults with intellectual disabilities and has been the focus of a recent Department of Health investigation.

    The charges — one count of exploitation of a vulnerable adult and one count of embezzlement — were mistakenly filed July 2 against Leslie Ann Mansfield, a 38-year-old retail worker who had no involvement with Gatesway. Charges will soon be filed against Leslie E. Mansfield, a former University of Tulsa law professor.

    Officer James Koch, public information officer for the Broken Arrow Police Department, said a “clerical error” was the reason charges were filed against the wrong person. He said new charges are expected to be filed Monday.

    Sally Van Schenck, spokeswoman for the Tulsa County District Attorney’s Office, said the filed charges “were based on information provided to us by the Broken Arrow Police Department.”
    Van Schenck said all charges against Leslie Ann Mansfield were dismissed Wednesday afternoon. The dismissal order was signed by Judge Sarah Smith.

    Citing an affidavit filed by the department, the Gatesway Foundation said in a statement that Mansfield allegedly embezzled nearly $90,000 from the trust accounts of four residents beginning in 2012 and withdrew another $90,000 from the trust account of a fifth alleged victim upon his death.
    A Gatesway accounting employee reportedly contacted authorities in January after Mansfield reportedly “failed repeatedly to provide documents necessary to complete clients’ required care plans,” according to the Gatesway statement.
    “I was sick when I found out the extent of the damage,” that employee said in the statement.
    The affidavit apparently details some of Mansfield’s alleged actions, accusing her of purchasing cashier’s checks to a car dealership totaling more than $25,000, according to the Gatesway statement. One client’s account was allegedly stripped of nearly $40,000 from 2013 to 2017.

    Many of the foundation’s clients live below the poverty line, and Mansfield managed accounts that included state and federal funds meant to pay for housing, food, medical care and other necessities.

    Gatesway officials stressed that Mansfield had no connection to the foundation other than her court-ordered guardianship of its clients. She was employed at the University of Tulsa as an assistant clinical professor of law from 1999 to 2005, according to a university spokeswoman.

    Separately, the Gatesway Foundation is facing possible termination from Medicare and Medicaid programs after a Department of Health investigation in May found deficiencies that placed clients in “immediate jeopardy,” according to a June 8 letter to the foundation from the Health Department.

    The investigation, which was first reported by The Frontier, a Tulsa online news organization, found that one client who had a “mild intellectual disability” and was incontinent had once soiled herself and was left unattended, an employee reportedly told investigators. Another client was reportedly told to clean up after the woman.

    The foundation has submitted a plan to the Department of Health to correct the deficiencies. It has until Aug. 13 to prove it has implemented that plan in order to remain compliant with Medicare and Medicaid requirements.

    In May, Gatesway announced that it would begin selling off some of its Tulsa-area properties, the Tulsa World reported at the time. Officials pointed to years of inadequate funding both from the state and private sources as a reason for the decision, which was made to eliminate debt and improve liquidity, ultimately allowing Gatesway “to focus on more efficiently delivering its mission,” its president said at the time.

    Full Article & Source: 
    Former guardian of Gatesway Foundation clients charged with embezzlement, exploitation

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







    Our guest tonight is Sharon De Lobo. Sharon produced the documentary: "The Unforgivable Truth"...the story of the theft of the family foundation ranch and funds. The entire Mercedes K. and Chandler H. Kibbee Foundation Fund and ranch were taken by the YMCA (Young Men's Christian Association). Mercedes K. Kibbee wanted her ranch and her fortune to be put to good use and for her ranch to be used as a safe, happy place for disadvantaged children. Instead, bad actors such as First Interstate Bank intervened and converted the foundation and all its assets to their own purposes in the name of the YMCA.

    Quoted from the legal documents signed by Mercedes,: "I never gave permission for the foundation to be structured in such a way so as to allow its board of directors to be compiled of a majority of people who are also on the YMCA board.". Documents signed December 12, 2006.

    From the Kibbee Foundation Board of Directors, Jay McGuiness who is the Executive Director of the Sheridan YMCA is heard at approximately 1:21 mins into the video, responding to questioning saying, "We own it now! Every vehicle, every tool, every painting"....and he goes on.

    Estate theft and theft of trusts is common place in the predatory world of elder abuse by professional people and supposedly respectable institutions and organizations. The most common method used is to levy false charges of incapacity against the elderly individual with assets, to then guardianize the elderly individual and begin plundering the estate.

    JOIN The Elder Abuse Reform Now Project

    READ The Silver Standard News

    WATCH The Unforgivable Truth

    LISTEN to the show live or listen to the archive later

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    COBB COUNTY, Ga. - A Cobb County woman is spending the next several years in prison after pleading guilty to charges that she beat her elderly husband with a three-hole punch.

    Barbara Joanne Long, 69, admitted in court last week that over a period of three days in August 2016, she used a three-hole punch, a boot, and her fists and feet to attack her husband, who was left lying on the floor in their living room with multiple facial fractures.

    Long waited two days to call 911.

    The couple had been married for more than two decades, and they were arguing about long-standing marital issues when the beatings took place.

    William Long died in early 2017 at age 72.

    Barbara Long pleaded guilty to three counts of aggravated assault family violence, one count of elder neglect, and four counts of elder abuse.

    “This was a tough case, with strong factors in aggravation and mitigation,” said Senior ADA Jason Marbutt, who prosecuted the case and also is chairman of the Cobb Elder Abuse Task Force. “Justice was done.”

    On Friday afternoon, Cobb Superior Court Judge A. Gregory Poole sentenced Barbara Long to 10 years, with five years to serve in prison and the balance on probation. 

    Full Article & Source:
    Woman who beat elderly husband with 3-hole puncher sent to prison

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    Sandra Steinberg
    During opening arguments in the trial for a woman accused of stealing money from an elderly woman, the defense and prosecution offered vastly different pictures of the relationship between the two women.

    Sandra Steinberg, 50, was charged in April 2017 with exploitation of a vulnerable adult, a class B felony. Police and prosecutors claim that Steinberg stole thousands of dollars, including money from oil royalties, from an elderly woman she had been helping to care for.

    In his opening statement, Nathan Madden, assistant state’s attorney for Williams County, said the woman Steinberg is accused of stealing from was 74 and barely able to leave home. He said the woman trusted Steinberg enough to add her to her checking account, and that eventually, Steinberg took thousands of dollars from that account.

    “Once (Steinberg) started realizing the oilfield checks started coming in, you’re going to see a spike in the money coming out of (the elderly woman’s) account,” Madden told the jury.

    Madden said the elderly woman wrote some checks to Steinberg but that Steinberg also wrote out checks to herself in the woman’s name, used the woman’s account to pay her utility bills and that she would deposit part of oil royalty checks while keeping money for herself.

    According to police, Steinberg stole $9,500 in oil royalties from last August 2016 through March 2017. She also allegedly withdrew about $5,200 from the woman’s bank account, and wrote several unauthorized checks totaling more than $900.

    During his opening statement, though, defense attorney Kevin Chapman said the woman wasn’t vulnerable and that while Steinberg had helped the woman, she hadn’t been an official caretaker, wasn’t in a position of trust and didn’t have power of attorney.

    “There was nothing like that,” Chapman said. “They had a joint banking account that they both had the authority to operate out of.”

    He said the pair were joint owners of the account, and that they became financially intertwined, but that there was no contract limiting what Steinberg was supposed to use money for.

    Chapman also disputed that the woman met the legal definition of a vulnerable adult, saying she was able to drive when she and Steinberg became friends.

    He said the woman had done well on a mental acuity test and while she had arthritis and limited mobility, that didn’t meet the legal standard.

    “The state tries to equate limited mobility with that, but that’s simply not sufficient,” Chapman told the jury.

    Steinberg’s trial had previously been set for April, but was delayed. Also in April, a judge rejected a plea deal between Steinberg and prosecutors. That deal would have given Steinberg a maximum sentence of one year in jail.

    Monday was mostly taken up with jury selection, with questioning from attorneys lasting until after 2:30 p.m. and the jury being seated around 3:15 p.m. Testimony from prosecution witnesses is supposed to begin at 9 a.m. today.

    The trial is scheduled to last until Wednesday.

    Full Article & Source: 



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    With a new law and a million dollars for implementation, top state and judicial officials on Friday publicly ushered in a new phase of reforming the state’s adult guardianship system that aims to find out how many incapacitated adults in New Mexico are under court protection and assess whether their finances are safe.

    The one-time legislative funding will pay for staff to sift through about 20,000 court files to find out how many people are under guardianship and conservatorships, and $300,000 will be devoted to the hiring of three auditors by the State Auditor’s Office for random compliance audits of contract guardians working for the state-funded guardianship program for low-income people.

    The Auditor’s Office will also be on call to conduct audits of guardian or conservator cases referred by judges or, in some cases, by the public.

    “I want you to know that the three branches of government have come together to solve the problem,” said state Supreme Court Chief Justice Judith Nakamura, whose court led the reform effort. She appeared Friday with state Auditor Wayne Johnson, state Sen. Jim White, R-Albuquerque, state Rep. Daymon Ely, D-Corrales, and state District Judge Shannon Bacon of Albuquerque.

    For years, courts have placed people deemed incapacitated, such as those with dementia or brain trauma, under legal guardianship or conservatorships if they are unable to make decisions about their care or manage their finances.

    But the system, here and around the country, has come under criticism for lack of oversight by the courts and inadequate accountability, and in some cases malfeasance, by some professional court-appointed guardians.

    Nakamura said Friday that the Legislature’s “historic” reforms, accompanied by new court rules, are “significant improvements” that will provide stricter accountability and greater transparency.

    Since the law took effect July 1, hearings in the traditionally closed guardianship cases are open to the public and families now have greater opportunity to view confidential reports filed in their loved ones’ cases, if a judge allows.

    Guardians no longer have “unilateral” ability to limit visitation by relatives, which Bacon said “created an environment for exploitation.” Unless a judge decides otherwise, financial bonds will also be required of conservators managing an incapacitated person’s assets.

    Johnson, who volunteered his agency to help in the reform effort, said, “This is the beginning of the process. I don’t want you to think that this is the end of the road.”

    A provision in the new law permits audits of the yearly reports guardians and conservators must file with the court about the incapacitated person’s welfare and assets and expenditures. The law also requires expanded reporting, but that will be phased in as guardians’ and conservators’ annual reports come due.

    Random audits of the 20 or so corporate guardianship firms that work for the state’s Office of Guardianship will be undertaken this year.

    The audits could include a review of financial transactions undertaken on behalf of the protected person and a review of any grievances filed against the contractor. About 900 incapacitated people are served by the program.

    But Johnson said there are legislative fixes needed before his office can initiate its own audits of guardian/conservator cases not involving state funds. Asked whether $300,000 is enough to perform the random audits, Johnson replied, “I hope so.”

    He said his audit team will still be able to review cases referred by the court or for which the court has permitted review. Johnson promised to make public reports about the audits, removing confidential information.

    Nakamura said the Supreme Court first learned about the depth of the problem from stories published by the Albuquerque Journal, which documented the “painful” experience of families whose loved ones are under corporate guardianships or conservatorships.

    “We all read about the horrors some citizens encounter,” Nakamura said, including cases “to put it bluntly, that had fallen through the cracks.”

    White, who spearheaded the reform bill unanimously approved by the Legislature in February, said Friday, “We’ve changed the system, not in great volumes but in some details. We want to get the word out both for those doing the guarding and those being guarded.” He added, “We may have to make further changes in future legislation.”

    Ely helped amend White’s bill for House approval. He said Friday that most guardians and conservators are dedicated and honest, but added, “This is the beginning of a process to protect the public from the crooks, the bad people (who exploit the incapacitated).”

    Just a year ago, federal authorities in New Mexico announced criminal investigations of Ayudando Guardians and Desert State Life Management, which managed conservatorships and other accounts for incapacitated people. The U.S. Attorney’s Office filed fraud and other charges against the principals in both of those now-defunct firms, who are accused of stealing millions of dollars from clients.

    While technology impediments have kept the courts from identifying how many guardianship or conservatorship cases are active, part of the special $1 million funding will pay for a special case review that could take six months.

    Beyond the new law, Nakamura echoed White and others in pledging to continue to make New Mexico’s guardianship system better.

    There is likely to be a need for special funding again next year, Nakamura and White said, depending on what’s learned from audits and other reforms.

    But, Nakamura added, “We’re in much better shape today than we were last December (prior to the legislative session.)”

    Full Article & Source:
    Guardianship reforms’ next phase ushered in

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    FLORENCE — A Georgia man has been indicted after police said he sold a Florence woman a car, took payments, but never delivered the vehicle.

    Joshua William Waddell, 29, 12430 Whiteside Road, Palmetto, Georgia, was indicted on four counts of first-degree theft of property and first-degree financial exploitation of the elderly.

    Officials said the victim is a 77-year-old Florence woman.

    According to the arrest complaint, Waddell sold a 2012 Ferrari to the Florence woman for her 2012 Porsche and $101,500.

    The report goes on to point out that the victim wired the money to Waddell.

    The indictment points out that Waddell fraudulently represented himself as a company in Atlanta that had dissolved in 2015.

    Waddell was arrested in September 2017. He is out of bond of $2,500.

    He is scheduled to be arraigned on the charges by Lauderdale Circuit Judge Will Powell July 30.

    Full Article & Source: 
    Georgia man indicted for theft, financial exploitation

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    SPRINGFIELD, Mo.--The day we can't manage our own lives is one we hope never comes.

    In Sunday night's Courageous Conversation, KOLR10 explains what happens to those with Alzheimer's who reach that point.

    A doctor will determine once the person is incapacitated and needs someone else to control their daily affairs.

     While it's recommend this individual is chosen before incapacitation is reached, for many families, that's not the case; therefore, the court system makes the decision.
      
    "This is my parents at their wedding on April 7th of 1943. They got married in a friend's house in St. Louis. It looks more like a church than a house," says Barbara Burgess, former guardian for her parents.

    Twenty-one years after George and Elizabeth Burgess said "I do", they had their fourth child, Barbara. Her mother was 42-years-old when she gave birth to her in Springfield,  "My mother was a housekeeper, homemaker, awesome mom. Every morning she would read to me and play a game," says Burgess.

    Like most children, Bugress grew up and left the nest, only she made a permanent return on February 26, 1994.

     "There was snow on the ground, I was living in Waynesville, Missouri, I jumped in my truck in a pair of shorts and a tank top, came home and I've been home ever since," says Burgess.

    When Burgess got the call her elderly mother had a stroke, she rushed home. Her arrival was the start of a long journey of taking care of her. Shortly after the stroke, she developed Alzheimer's.

    "She would do things like put butter on the windowsill and put the plants in the refrigerator," says Burgess.

    Years later, her father's health took a turn for the worse. The once outgoing man suffered from depression then the same disease that overtook his wife.

     "People would come over and they'd talk with him. He'd hold a conversation, they would leave, and he'd be like 'who's that?' and he couldn't remember any of the conversation that he'd just had. He could remember things from way back when, but couldn't remember what happened five minutes ago," says Burgess.

     "The disease affects everyone individually. If you've met one person with Alzheimer's disease, you've met one person with Alzheimer's," says Rob Hulsra, healthcare outreach coordinator for Alzheimer's Association Greater Missouri Chapter.

    Hulstra's seen how the disease turns tasks we take for granted into overwhelming challenges.

    "Remembering how to brush our teeth, how to get dressed, these become problematic as their mental condition declines as the disease progresses remembering how to eat, take medications," says Hulstra.

    Attorney, Deanna Scott says when the disease becomes that progressive, the court will determine who is best fit to take care of the person if it hasn't been decided before they become incapacitated. They also monitor the guardian  to ensure accountability.

     "It could be a family member because often times family members are the ones most familiar with the person, but it doesn't have to be. Also because of HIPPA Laws and restrictions, physicians can't talk to you about someone else's health so even though grandma might have Alzheimer's, the physician can't discuss the details of that with you so being a guardian permits the medical community to deal directly with you and you make those decisions," says Scott.

    "As a caregiver and a daughter watching that, the hardest part was not being able to do anything about it and to just watch that daily decline everyday getting worse and worse and worse. Losing weight, not wanting to eat, not remembering how to eat, then it came to the point I had to feed both of them too and dress them and bath them," says Burgess.

    Burgess cared for her mother for 14 years until her death at 86 in 2008. Her father passed away three years later at the age of 91. Burgess proved that being a guardian to parents with Alzheimer's is not for the faint of heart, but says she'd do it all over again.

     "I just knew in my heart I had to. They were such great parents to me that it was my turn to give back to them," says Burgess.

    Those with Alzheimer's don't relinquish all of their rights just because they're under guardianship.

    They can still vote, drive, and provide input on their needs if the court feels like they have the ability to do so.



    Full Article & Source:
    The Long Goodbye: When Those With Alzheimer's Need Guardianship

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    The caretaker for a businessman who married him in his final days forfeited her statutory share of his estate because she knowingly married him while he was mentally incapacitated, a Surrogate’s Court judge found.

    The ruling was handed down just before the July Fourth holiday, following a 37-day trial in a 12-year-old court battle over the estate of Irving Berk, a successful businessman who founded the Berk Trade and Business School and who was 100 when he died in 2006, leaving behind an estate of more than $5 million.

    Berk’s caretaker, Hua Wang, known as Judy, married Berk as his physical and mental health were in decline and without his family’s knowledge. 

    There is nothing on the books in New York that specifically addresses situations in which someone takes advantage of a mentally incapacitated person by secretly marrying them to obtain a portion of their estate through marriage and, generally speaking, there is a strong presumption in the law that marriages are valid. 

    Thus, Wang had been successful at fending off Berk’s sons’ challenge to her right of election which, under state law, entitles her to claim one-third of Berk’s estate.

    But following a 37-day trial Acting Brooklyn Surrogate Judge John Ingram, said he found it “impossible” that Wang didn’t know that Berk wasn’t mentally incapacitated when they got married in 2005. 

    “The evidence presented shows consistent, insidious and duplicitous conduct that led to” Wang’s “clandestine marriage” to Berk, the judge said.

    Jessica Baquet, a partner at Jaspan Schlesinger who, with Ruskin Moscou Faltischek partner John Farinacci, represent Berk’s sons, Harvey and Joel, said that Ingram’s ruling could be applied to other cases and that it could prevent marriage from being “weaponized” against elderly or infirm people as a way of taking a part of their estates.

    “The case is a bellwether for change in the way the courts address elder exploitation,” Baquet said.

    Jordan Weitberg of Bressler, Amery & Ross, who has represented Wang throughout the case, said her attorneys are disappointed with Ingram’s ruling and that the judge got it wrong in terms of characterizing his client’s relationship with Berk. 

    “Ms. Wang deeply loved and cared for Mr. Berk and spent all her time with him, and the witnesses to the marriage testified that both Mr. Berk and Ms. Wang were very happy at the time of the marriage,” Weitberg said. He said his client is appealing the ruling.

    Legal observers say that the ruling comes at a time when people are living longer, potentially putting them at risk of exploitation by caretakers, and puts would-be fraudsters on notice that courts will take action if they sense that a marriage was obtained through undue influence. 

    “When someone is elderly and dependent and weaker physically and, sometimes, emotionally, this case is fair warning that the courts will do what they think is the right thing,” said Gary Bashian, a wills and estates attorney with Bashian & Farber who was not involved with the case. 

    The Berk estate case has twice been sent up for review by the Appellate Division, Second Department, and was the first test of a standard set by the appellate court to determine if a spouse has forfeited their elective share.  

    Ingram was acting on instructions from the Second Department to determine if the caretaker forfeited her statutory right to a third of her dead husband’s fortune by marrying him through undue influence.

    Berk wrote his sons and his four grandchildren into his will in 1982 as the sole beneficiaries. In 1997, as their father’s health started to slip, his sons hired Wang to be his live-in caretaker. 

    In 2005, Wang and Berk got married in a civil ceremony at the New York City Clerk’s Office that was attended by a Mandarin interpreter. Wang stayed quiet about the marriage until she was sharing a car with Berk’s sons on the way to a funeral home the day before their father’s funeral. 

    Under state law, spouses are given a right of election entitling them to $50,000 or one-third of the estate, whichever is larger.

    But in 2008, Brooklyn Surrogate’s Court Judge Diana Johnson found that, regardless of whether or not Berk’s marriage to Wang was executed through fraud, her hands are essentially tied by state statute; she said her decision would seem to invite a “plethora of surreptitious deathbed marriages” as a means of trying to line one’s pockets through the statutory right to election but “this is simply the state of the law.” 

    In 2010, ruling on both the Berk matter and a companion case, the Second Department issued a landmark reversal, finding that a spouse forfeits his or her right to election if they knowingly marry an elderly or infirm person for the purpose of obtaining some of their estate. 

    When it was drafted into law more than 50 years ago, New York’s right of election was intended to prevent individuals from disinheriting their spouses, the appeals court reasoned in the companion case, and called on the state Legislature to re-examine the law and find a way to prevent it from being used as a tool to “exploit the elderly and infirm.” 

    In 2015, the Second Department yet again handed the case back to the Surrogate’s Court, directing the lower court to answer the question: Did Wang know that Berk was incapacitated when they were wed, and thus knowing he was incapable of consenting to the marriage? If so, did she take unfair advantage of Berk by marrying him for his money?

    Ingram said that Berk’s sons presented a “plethora of credible evidence” that their father was in a diminished mental state when he married Wang, such as the fact that Berk was unable to accurately complete his application for a marriage license, misreporting his address and his mother’s maiden name. 

    Wang was also represented by Benjamin Xue of Xue & Associates. Following the close of evidence, Wang brought in Randall Eng, the recently retired presiding justice of the Appellate Division, Second Department, who now works for Meyer Suozzi.

    Weitberg said Ingram made several errors through the trial and that the judge did not properly assess testimony from numerous witnesses that Berk was active and vibrant throughout his life and that he continued running his business at the Berk Trade School and managed his real estate holdings in New York and Florida.

    The witnesses presented by his opposing counsel, Weitberg said, were “either biased family members, proven liars,” or gave “snapshot” testimony that “failed to provide a fair picture of Mr. Berk.”

    Full Article & Source:
    In 'Bellwether,' Judge Rejects Spousal Share for Caretaker Who Married Businessman at Life's End

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    No one enjoys contemplating later-life and end-of-life planning. For a variety of reasons, many older adults postpone making wills and other directives indefinitely. If they are in relatively good health, it just may not seem urgent to plan for a time when they will no longer be able to make sound decisions and care for themselves.

    Adult children are often loathe to bring up such topics with their elderly parents. They don’t want to be perceived as being greedy, or they may simply hate to think of a time when a beloved parent will no longer be independent. Helping a senior loved one plan for the future begins with a conversation that may be difficult to broach.

    Despite the unpleasant nature of this planning, it’s absolutely necessary, because it leads to greater security. Once the preparations are completed, older adults will have peace of mind, knowing that should a devastating illness strike, their care needs will be met and their wishes regarding artificial life support will be honored. Likewise, they can rest easy, knowing their estate will be distributed exactly according to their directives upon their death. Furthermore, making sure all end-of-life documents are legal and ironclad can help prevent financial elder abuse, which comes in many forms.

    In 2018, Wells Fargo authorized a later-life planning survey of 784 seniors aged 60 and older, along with 798 adult children aged 45 to 69. The results painted a picture of how many Americans haven’t made adequate preparations in this area. Below are highlights of what the survey found, as well as real-life cases showing the dire consequences that may ensue from neglecting to put one’s affairs in order.

    According to the survey, 57 percent of seniors view talking about later-life needs as a low priority, even when they reach their eighties. Perhaps a measure of denial plays a role in this view, because the average life expectancy of people who reach 65 in the U.S. is the mid-80s. Wells Fargo said the reluctance to plan could open the door to fraud by a trusted person, who, in fact, is untrustworthy.

    The survey found that one out of five older Americans is a victim of financial abuse, but only one in ten believe it could happen to them.

    Full Article and Source:
    Happy Safe Families are Preserved by Uncomfortable Conversations

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    A Broward County woman reportedly killed her 85-year-old mother after she learned she was left out of her will, authorities said.

    Gabriela Perero, 53, learned she was the only one of her siblings left out of her mother's will and wouldn't be getting an inheritance.

    A police report said she became angry at this news, pushed her mother, Luisa Perero onto the floor last Thursday, grabbed her arms and "ripped her skin off."

    The Associated Press reported that she cleaned her mother up after, put her into her bed and called 911. Her mother died the next day.

    Police say she was charged with premeditated murder and aggravated battery on a person over 65.

    Source:
    Authorities: Broward County woman kills mom after being left out of her will

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    THE CASE OF A COURT-APPOINTED GUARDIAN WHO TOOK CONTROL OF AN 80-YEAR-OLD WOMAN’S LIFE HAS TAKEN A TURN.

    Jennifer Rodgers walked into a courtroom July 3 and got something that seemed for months to be out of her reach: permission to spend time with her mom.

    The court ruling arrived just in time for Rodgers — and friends and family of her mom, 80-year-old Martha (pictured above, at right) — to get together for a Fourth of July cookout.

    The breakthrough occurred after Martha’s legal guardianship and conservatorship transferred from Leelanau County to Grand Traverse County. Some fresh sets of eyes noted problems that had occurred in Martha’s case, which had languished as court-appointed guardian Jill Case took almost complete control over Martha’s life.

    That’s all changed. Grand Traverse County Probate Judge Melonie Stanton appointed Jennifer Rodgers as co-guardian of her mom. And she said she would have to issue an arrest warrant for Case after Case failed to show up for that hearing. (Most recently, Case missed another deadline on July 11; an arrest warrant was expected to be issued for her arrest through the probate court.)

    “I’m very happy that there’s some clarity,” Rodgers said after the hearing. “It’s been a long road, and we just had to be patient until the situation exposed itself as an injustice.”

    Lynn Hackenberger, Martha’s lifelong friend who filed one of the petitions to have Case removed, said after the hearing that she also was delighted with the outcome. She praised the manner in which Stanton handled the case. She said it was unlike her experience while the case was pending before Probate Court Judge Larry Nelson in Leelanau County.

    “It was night and day,” Hackenberger said. “You had a judge that was willing to listen. In Leelanau, he didn’t give anybody a chance to say anything. He had his mind already made up.”

    A COMPLETE BREAK-DOWN
    At the July 3 hearing, a dozen friends and family showed up to support Rodgers. At the other side of the room, Rodgers’ adversary and estranged brother, Simeon Rodgers, stood alone. Jennifer Rodgers alleges that her brother took advantage of guardian and conservator laws in order to insinuate himself back into his mother’s million-dollar-plus estate after he had been left out of her will.

    After the hearing, Simeon Rodgers said he had no comment and expressed anger about an earlier Northern Express article about the case. The complicated, heartrending saga was profiled in “Fighting for Mom,” a story that appeared in the Nov. 18, 2017, edition of Northern Express.

    The case began when Simeon Rodgers and his son, Spencer, along with a state Adult Protective Services worker and Case, alleged that Jennifer Rodgers had taken advantage of and neglected her mother in late 2016 and early 2017, despite evidence that Jennifer Rogers had attempted to make arrangements for her mom.

    Jennifer Rodgers was almost immediately stripped of legal control of her mom’s affairs even though Martha herself had legally declared — while she had been in good health — that she wanted her daughter to care for her if her health should decline. Nevertheless, APS and Nelson put Case in charge of Martha’s health and financial affairs.

    The move infuriated Jennifer Rodgers. As Martha’s health faltered, Case enabled Simeon Rodgers, who had been written out of his mother’s will following a long-ago dispute, to get back into his mother’s life.

    Relations between Jennifer Rodgers and Case deteriorated and soon, Jennifer Rodgers’ visits with her mom were strictly controlled by Case. After the publication of the Northern Express article in November, Case moved Martha from a nursing home in Northport to an undisclosed location (which turned out to be in Traverse City) that she would not reveal to Jennifer Rodgers or Martha’s friends in her hometown of Suttons Bay, apparently fearing they would inform Martha’s daughter of Martha’s location.

    Full Article and Source:
    Home Again - A Guardianship Overturned

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







    Whistleblower's! is brought to you in coordination with Marcel Reid and the annual Whistlblower's! Summit July 29, thru August 1, 2018 in Washington DC. The public is cordially invited.

    Join us tonight as Sal Rastrelli and Ira Robins, two former law enforcement officers discuss police cover-ups and corruption and their website Archangels of Justice

    Quoting, Ira:

    "Sal was a deputy sheriff in Florida for 25 years, has more than 4000 hours of training in forensics, use of force, tactical situations, and underwater recovery (scuba), and is the best partner I have ever worked with.

    I was a police officer, accident investigator, private investigator, and have been an investigative consultant for the past 20 years. Presently we are investigative journalists. I have 55 years of experience and am an expert in exposing police cover ups and law enforcement corruption.

    We both taught police subjects to recruits and police officers at the college level and we qualify and testify as expert witnesses.

    Now, as the Archangels of Justice we travel the country working on murder cases that have been falsely classified as suicides, child protection cases, wrongful convictions, guardianship abuse, and many other type cases."

    LISTEN to the show live or listen to the archive later



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    WILLISTON, N.D. -- A judge on Tuesday dismissed a charge of exploitation of a vulnerable adult just before testimony was set to begin in the trial of a woman accused of stealing thousands of dollars from an elderly woman she was helping to care for.
    Prosecutors asked Northwest District Judge Paul Jacobson to dismiss the charge. Nathan Madden, assistant state’s attorney for Williams County, said July 17 that he had received new information Monday evening that made it impossible for the prosecution to continue its case against Sandra Steinberg. He said he couldn’t elaborate on what that information was.

    Steinberg, 50, was charged in April 2017 with exploitation of a vulnerable adult, a class B felony. Police claimed that she wrote checks, made ATM withdrawals and took money from oil royalty checks she was supposed to deposit.

    In a motion to dismiss the charge filed Tuesday in Northwest District Court, Madden gave only “prosecutorial discretion” as the reason for seeking to drop the charge. The motion asked to have the charge dismissed with prejudice, meaning it could not be re-filed.

    Full Article & Source:
    Exploitation charges dropped against 50-year-old in Williston

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    ALBUQUERQUE Court-appointed guardians and conservators are subject to audits and more extensive reporting requirements under a new state law to help protect vulnerable New Mexicans no longer able to make decisions about their finances and personal affairs.

    Friday, Supreme Court Chief Justice Judith K. Nakamura, State Auditor Wayne Johnson, Sen. James White and Rep. Damon Ely along with Second Judicial District Judges Shannon Bacon and Nancy Franchini highlighted changes in state law and court rules for the adult guardianship system. Newly enacted legislation (Senate Bill 19) took effect July 1 along with court procedural rules and forms to carry out the law’s requirements.

    “All three branches of government – Legislative, Executive and Judicial – came together and worked cooperatively on guardianship reforms to promote and protect the well-being of New Mexicans unable to manage their own affairs,” Chief Justice Nakamura said.

    In addition to new court rules and forms that must be used by guardians and conservators, a pilot project for auditing and reviewing guardianship and conservatorship cases is provided for under terms of amemorandum of understanding between the State Auditor and the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC).

    “This audit partnership between the courts and the state auditor’s office in the guardianship program is a critical safeguard for people who are relying on strangers to manage their life-savings and expend it responsibly on their behalf,” State Auditor Johnson said. “I strongly believe in openness and accountability in government spending. A similar standard applies when a guardian or conservator is appointed for someone who can’t manage their own affairs. This partnership between our office, New Mexico families, judges, and legislators is a good step towards protecting our seniors and other vulnerable adults.”

    “The new law does much to correct problems in our guardianship system,” said Sen. White, who sponsored SB19. “It opens hearings, expands access to records, ensures that protected persons can continue to receive visitors and communicate with others, and prevents guardians from revoking or amending a power of attorney for health care or finances that was previously entered into by a protected person.”

    Rep. Ely said, “It has been very impressive to see the partnership between the State Auditor and the Courts. In my view, they are doing an excellent job of working together to solve this problem.”

    A steering committee with representatives from all branches of state government was formed by the Supreme Court to assist in the implementation of SB19 and make recommendations about $1 million allocated to the AOC by the Legislature for guardianship reforms. The State Auditor, Sen. White and Rep. Ely serve on the committee. Judge Bacon chairs the committee and Judge Franchini is vice chair. Part of the $1 million will cover the costs of the audits.

    Judges Bacon and Franchini said a project manager has been named for a statewide review by the courts of the more than 20,000 guardianship and conservatorship cases filed over the years.

    “A review of older case files is critical because it will help the courts identify the guardianship and conservatorship proceedings that require ongoing judicial monitoring,” Judge Bacon said.

    Judge Franchini said, “New forms that must be used by conservators and guardians for reports to courts will provide better information to judges about the status of protected persons and provide for more accountability of guardians and conservators.”

    Among other changes to the guardianship system:
    • Guardians and conservators must keep a protected person’s financial records for seven years and fully comply with the requirements of any audit of the protected person’s account, inventory, report, or property.
    • Bonding requirements on conservators to help safeguard a protected person’s assets.
    • Additional information about a protected person’s finances and health must be submitted by guardians and conservators in reports to district courts.
    • Open court hearings in guardianship and conservatorship proceedings, which were previously closed.
    • Expanded access to court records for family members and others entitled to notice of guardianship proceedings under the new statutory requirements.
    District courts will be able to refer conservatorship cases to the State Auditor’s Office for a review and evaluation of a protected person’s estate and financial affairs. The Auditor also can randomly conduct financial and compliance audits of guardians for adults served by a publicly funded program administered through the New Mexico Developmental Disabilities Planning Council and Office of Guardianship.

    Court-appointed guardians make personal and health care decisions for individuals who are incapacitated. Conservators manage the finances and possibly the property of an incapacitated person, including those who may have dementia, traumatic brain injuries, a developmental disability or mental illness.

    Full Article & Source:
    New Mexico Supreme Court: Guardianship System Changes Protect Vulnerable Citizens

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    A Woodbridge lawyer admitted to stealing his clients money, and entered into a plea agreement that includes five years in state prison and restitution of approximately $310,000.

    Richard Zuvich, 64, of Woodbridge pleaded guilty Monday in Middlesex County Superior Court to thefts that took place between May 8, 2015 and July 2017 according to Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office.

    In the first incident, prosecutors say Zuvich admitted he took the proceeds from a house sale for a client, put the funds in a trust account, then withdrew the funds for himself.

    He pleaded guilty to theft by unlawful taking and misapplication of entrusted property.

    In another incident, Zuvich stole the insurance settlement money for his client for a house that burned down. Prosecutors say the client had no knowledge that Zuvich had negotiated the settlement.

    As part of the settlement, Zuvich pleaded guilty to theft by deception and theft by failure to make required disposition.

    Zuvich has practiced as a lawyer for nearly 27 years.

    He is scheduled to be sentenced by Superior Court Judge Pedro Jimenez in New Brunswick on Feb. 22, 2019. 

    Full Article & Source:
    Prison-bound lawyer to pay back over $300K he stole from clients

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