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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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    Amanda Forrest
    Gainesville resident Amanda Forrest, 39, was arraigned last week before Circuit Judge Craig Carter on a charge of financial exploitation of the elderly.

    The charge stems from accusations that, last December, Forrest made a “false promise” to care for the animals and property belonging to an 80-year-old citizen described as a “Confidential Victim” in the charging document filed by Ozark County Prosecuting Attorney John Garrabrant.

    The probable cause statement in the case, filed by Ozark County Sheriff’s Deputy Cpl. Curtis Dobbs, says that, on April 20, he responded to a report of unknown subjects loading items into a truck at a residence on County Road 511.

    The person who reported the incident also said two vehicles – a 1999 Buick Regal and a 1995 Ford Explorer – were missing from the property.

    Dobbs learned that the owner of the residence had been hospitalized in Mountain Home, Arkansas, from January to March, and then was transferred to a long-term care facility in Willow Springs. The social service director at the facility told Dobbs the resident had been “in an incapacitated state” since his arrival there, and a Guardian Ad Litem had been appointed for him in April.

    When Dobbs arrived at the residence on April 20, he saw tire tracks at the back of the house “and drag marks where someone had recently drug a heavy object and loaded it into a vehicle,” he wrote in the probable cause statement. He also saw that a window had been broken on the side of the home.

    While he was at the house, a truck arrived carrying Amanda Forrest and two other occupants. The two other passengers in the truck told Dobbs that Forrest had “promised them money in exchange for helping her load and haul items to another location where a person was waiting to purchase them.” Both of the other passengers said Forrest told them she had permission to be at the residence.

    Forrest admitted to Dobbs that she had taken items from the home but said she had the owner’s permission in order to pay for feeding the cats and dogs, according to the statement.

    Dead cats and dogs near death

    The reporting party had discovered the animals in the residence and reported the situation to the sheriff’s office on March 24. The deputy who investigated the incident then said that between six and nine dead cats were found in the home as well as two dogs that were near death.

    Based on information from the reporting party and other witnesses, Dobbs wrote that Forrest “may have had permission ... to feed the animals but not sell any of the items” belonging to the property owner. He added that no evidence indicated that any money received from the sale of the items ever benefitted the owner or was used to feed his animals. “The animals left in her care were abandoned and locked in the home where most died from lack of food and water,” he wrote.

    Unpaid bills, missing vehicles

    When asked about the two missing vehicles, Forrest said she had wrecked the Explorer and sold it to someone in Arkansas for $200.

    Dobbs showed Forrest photos of the household items and appliances reported as missing, “which appeared to be on her Facebook page. ... Ms. Forrest was attempting to sell these and other items for cash on Facebook sites such as Mountain Home Online Yard Sale,” Dobbs wrote.

    Forrest said she sold the items in order to pay the resident’s bill at Gainesville Veterinary Clinic. Dobbs contacted the clinic, which told him the resident did have an outstanding balance, but no one had paid on it since the charges were accrued in December.

    On April 23, Dobbs contacted someone in Mountain Home who had advertised on Facebook, offering cash for old cars. The man told Dobbs that Forrest had contacted him, and he had driven to the Ozark County residence and purchased the two vehicles from Forrest, paying $200 for each vehicle. The actual value of the vehicles was in excess of $1,000 each, Dobbs wrote. The man said he had already crushed the Buick but still had the Explorer.

    In the charging document, Garra-brant accused Forrest of “promising performance that the defendant did not intend to perform or knew would not be performed and thereby knowingly obtained control of two motor vehicles, household appliances and furniture ... with the intent to permanently deprive Confidential Victim of the use of the property.”

    Forrest is scheduled to appear in court Aug. 8 for a plea or trial setting.

    Full Article & Source:
    Gainesville resident charged with financial exploitation of elderly

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    I read the letter from my state Rep.Tama Theis, "Gov. Dayton’s veto hurts vulnerable adults, seniors and their families," that ran May 31, with interest. I had called her concerning this very bill on abuse in assisted living — before this bill was put in the omnibus bill and watered down in that process.

    I know members of the Elder Abuse Consumer Coalition, the president in particular, Kristine Sundberg, who told me the House bill was weak to begin with and the Senate version was actually the one watered down to fit the completely inadequate House version. The Coalition had asked the governor to veto the end-of-session mess the Republicans had presented him, including this legislation, which by end of the session was then actually stripping safety measures that were in place, and still are since the veto.

    You’ll ask why I would care. I am an elder in my 80s. I am an RN/Nurse Practitioner having spent my life and career caring for elderly, mentally ill veterans. I belong to advocacy groups Greater Minnesota Health Care Coalition and Central Minnesota Senior Federation, both which keep an eye on how our healthcare money is spent by the state and state appointed vendors. I care how people are treated.

    You may also wonder about the elder coalition mentioned. Bluntly, most if not all of the members have lost someone at an assisted living facility because the facility did not do a daily welfare check, which they promise they will do.

    I say "promise" because there is no law or regulation to make them do a check. In one case it was seven days after the person had died before it was discovered, even though a neighbor warned the facility something was wrong. This is not isolated either. Many “incidents” as they are called are reported. Read the extended expose’ in the Star Tribune.

    Back to Theis’ opinion letter. When called, I asked why she hadn’t signed onto the House bill. She hadn’t read it; at least that was the response. As she stated, she is a vice chair of this particular committee. But she hadn’t read it and hadn’t co-sponsored it, yet.

    She mentioned how the House bill was giving the residents and their families “additional tools to hold perpetrators of abuse accountable . . .”

    One tool used before the bill was the use of hidden cameras. Many abuses were discovered and stopped because the family put a camera in the apartment and proved abuse.

    The House bill, however, required the family to tell the facility employees when and where the camera was placed. I suppose this would help the facilities avoid having perpetrators abuse because perpetrators now knew when they were being watched. The head of the AARP in Minnesota, Will Phillips, said this would undermine any ability of seniors and their families to document any abuse.

    Because assisted living facilities are actually apartment buildings that promise to do a daily welfare check on occupants, residents may be evicted without notice to the family (if any), without concern where they would go and who would take them and be responsible. The bill Theis praises did not address this.

    In assisted living apartments, you are treated as if you were like any other renter, without even low-income housing safeguards. If the elder is not checked on and dies, the family’s only recourse is a civil lawsuit. There are no criminal penalties. No “burdensome regulations” to “lead to significantly higher costs,” as her letter said. Her legislation would have done nothing to help and protect seniors in assisted living.

    Charlotte Fisher is an RN/Nurse Practitioner who worked 30 years until retirement at the St Cloud VA. After retirement, she ran for the Sauk Rapids area MN House seat in the 1980s, worked as a nurse consultant for Opportunity Matters, raised her sons and involved herself in many organizations and causes to make healthcare fair and accessible for everyone. She is still advocating for health care as a right.

    Full Article & Source:
    Legislation needs to help, protect seniors in assisted living

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    ALBANY – A Slingerlands estate attorney who spent 37 years with one of the largest firms in upstate New York was charged Thursday in U.S. District Court with the theft and concealment of at least $328,000 allegedly taken from clients and his employer.

    Albert Hessberg III, 63, a third-generation attorney who has sat on a number of local boards, was fired in March from the firm of Barclay Damon, where he worked since 1981 and handled trusts and estate cases, federal court papers said.

    The FBI and federal prosecutors in Albany are still investigating Hessberg's alleged thefts that could be in the range of $1 million to $3 million, according to people with knowledge of the case.

    Hessberg is charged with mail and wire fraud. Prosecutors for U.S. Attorney Grant Jaquith say Hessberg stole money from clients and diverted payments to his firm for legal services to himself.

    An FBI agent's affidavit said one of Hessberg's former clients, a man identified only as "A.R.," died in 2007 leaving a probate estate of $555,000. The agent said Hessberg was the executor of the estate, the assets of which were to be left in a trust for the man's widow, known as "C.R.," and, after her death, trusts for their three children and grandchildren.

    The widow died in 2010, leaving an estate of $314,000. The FBI agent wrote that nothing showed Hessberg ever set up trusts for the children or grandchildren. When one of the children asked about the inheritance, Hessberg explained in emails, voicemails and phone calls that distributing the assets was complicated and he needed more time, the affidavit said.

    Hessberg told the person in emails last June that he had hired an accountant to ensure proper distribution of assets, then transferred $10,500 to the late couple's children "in an effort to further conceal and delay the discovery of his thefts," the  agent wrote.

    Between Jan. 1, 2013 and May 11, 2015, Hessberg allegedly deposited $328,507 from other Barclay clients into the account for "A.R." He put the money into a bank account under his own name and the name of a family member, then second account under those names, then spent most of the money to "cover his personal and lifestyle expenses," the affidavit said.

    Hessberg faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted on the charges, but could face lesser time depending on sentencing guidelines.

    U.S. Magistrate Judge Christian Hummel allowed Hessberg to be free on his own recognizance. The defendant's lawyer, E. Stewart Jones of Troy, said the case is "a long way from being over."

    M. Cornelia Cahill, deputy managing partner at Barclay Damon, did not utter Hessberg's name in a statement to the Times Union about the charges.

    "When this matter came to light, Barclay Damon immediately terminated the attorney involved and notified the U.S. attorney's office," Cahill stated. "The firm will not comment further while the investigation is pending."

    Hessberg's family was once part of the firm of Poskanzer, Hessberg, Blumberg and Dolin in Albany, which merged in 1985 with the Syracuse-based firm of Hiscock and Barclay, which later became Barclay Damon.

    The defendant's father, Albert Hessberg II, was a president of the Albany County Bar Association and a referee with the state Commission on Judicial Conduct. When he died at 78 in 1995, an obituary in the Times Union identified him as a "longtime local attorney and a star running back for Yale in the 1930s."

    The defendant's sister, Kim Hessberg Taylor, is the wife of musician James Taylor. In January, the couple donated $10,000 to Albany Medical Center Hospital for the Pediatric Emergency Department, scheduled to open this summer.

    Full Article & Source:
    Feds: Lawyer stole $328,000 from clients, firm

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    The late TV chef Anthony Bourdain was worth just $1.21 million when he hanged himself last month, new legal filings revealed Thursday.

    Previous estimates had pegged his fortune at $16 million.

    Bourdain’s will leaves the bulk of his money to his 11-year-old daughter Ariane Busia-Bourdain and the control over his estate to her mother, his estranged wife Ottavia Busia-Bourdain. It was filed in Manhattan Surrogate’s Court.

    His assets include $425,000 in “cash and savings,” $35,000 in a brokerage account, $250,000 and “personal property,” and $500,000 in “intangible property including royalties and residuals,” according to court papers.

    The documents do not list the East 94th Street condo Bourdain bought with his then-wife in 2014, but the filings do indicate a $1 million mortgage liability for an unspecified property.

    The will was written in 2016, shortly before Bourdain and Busia split. He was dating Italian actress Asia Argento when he committed suicide in a hotel room in France amid. He was 61.

    The celebrity chef had been working on a new episode of his CNN show “Parts Unknown” at the time of his death.

    Bourdain, who traveled the globe for his culinary adventure shows, gave his “accumulated frequent flier miles” to his wife. He asked her to “dispose of [them] in accordance with what [she] believes to have been my wishes,” he says in his will.

    He left the same instructions for cars, furniture, books, clothing and other household items.

    Ariane, his only child, is set to inherit the remainder of his assets. Had his daughter died before he did the money would have gone to her nanny, Myra Quizon, the will says.

    The court will appoint a guardian to protect his young daughter’s interests in the estate because she’s a minor.

    The estate’s attorney did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

    Full Article & Source:
    Anthony Bourdain worth $1.21M at the time of his death

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    The real perpetrators of elder abuse & exploitation: Medical kidnapping by state public officials

     

    More than 30 years ago, throughout the United States, state governments created agencies known as “elder protective services.”

    As seen by such designated titles, these agencies are made to appear as though state governments are helpful resources for citizens.

    However, nothing could be further from the truth. 

    These so-called protective agencies are, in fact, wolves in sheep’s clothing that I can attest to from not only my direct personal experiences, but also from years of research.

    Details of my family’s ongoing travesty of justice can be found at FreeMarvin.com. (See also: Massachusetts Senior Citizen and Attorney Medically Kidnapped – Estate Plundered – Represents National Epidemic.)

    Upon years of my reviewing and obtaining voluminous court documentation throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts—particularly, in my professional experience as an attorney, there is no doubt, whatsoever, that public officials have been operating a racketeering enterprise through the probate and family courts, feeding off our most vulnerable citizens, the elderly.

    These public officials do so through physical and financial exploitation of the elderly. [1]

    In 2015, I filed a federal civil action in the District Court of Massachusetts providing overwhelming and irrefutable documentation that state elder protective agencies is one cog of many in a long-embedded governmental money laundering and embezzlement enterprise.

    “Adult/elder protective services” is a money-making industry, which should set off nonstop warning bells to the public—especially, given the revelation of the magnitude of absolute corruption by government officials with hard cold supporting indisputable facts to the credit of our 45th President Donald J. Trump. (Editor’s note – See: National Health Care Fraud Takedown Results in Charges Against Over 412 Individuals Responsible for $1.3 Billion in Fraud Losses – Largest Health Care Fraud Enforcement Action in Department of Justice History.)

    As laid out in my 2015 federal racketeering complaint, illicit monies are funneled through kickbacks arising from prescribed medications (especially antipsychotics) and fraudulent billings for Medicare & Medicaid services.
    The indisputable fact is that these state “protective” agencies have a financial incentive to unlawfully initiate court proceedings in the Probate & Family Courts to have our family members judicially declared wards of the state.
    For example, Medicaid services are reimbursable for “all of the activities involved in an APS (Adult protective services) investigations of allegations of abuse.” [2]

    The Medicaid program process is called Administrative Claiming. For “non-providers,” funds for APS investigations are provided by Title XIX Medicaid Administration.

    UNDER SEC. 2042. [42 U.S.C. 1397m-1], Social Security also provides funds specific to investigating reported elder abuse via the Department of Health & Human Services. In 2011, $3 million dollars from Social Security was funded for “investigative” services, and $4 million each year from 2012-2014.

    As evidenced,
    medical providers and nonmedical entities receive kickbacks for the mere reporting of elder abuse.
    Add to that, medical providers have even more of a financial incentive to facilitate reports of elder abuse where they have a subsequent and additional steady stream of income to be made through providing medical services.

    The way to keep that continuous flow of income, people are involuntarily forced into the Probate & Family Courts by state “protective” agencies where they ensue formal court proceedings to declare people “wards of the state” upon which they are then routinely admitted into rehabilitation and/or nursing home facilities against their will.

    This is all facilitated by elders being judicially determined to be “incapacitated.”

    As shown, the medical community works hand-in-hand with judges and attorneys of the Probate & Family courts to literally abduct our family members by design for pure greed.

    These public officials use these court proceedings to do so by claimed “mental health” issues and/or physical illness. Through the Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) own published reports, state agencies guised as “protective services” have an established pattern of profiting from dismantling the family unit for more than 30 years nationwide.

    Once elders are officially deemed “wards of the state” by Probate & Family Court judges, due to state protective agencies use to hook their claws into our family members, the governmental reign of terror is embedded through these judges appointing guardians and conservators to take absolute control over “the ward.”

    At that point, the elder is then stripped of all individual freedoms, including personal decisions involving medical, financial or otherwise.
    There is an irrefutable and well-documented pattern of court appointed guardians isolating the ward from family and friends, so as to facilitate involuntary drugging of the ward with antipsychotics and other Big-Pharma medications through subterfuge with the ultimate objective of liquidating the elder’s estate and to use the elder as a means to funnel funds via kickbacks and Medicare & Medicaid fraud.

    Do NOT Call Elder Abuse “Hotlines”!


    Even more alarmingly, for decades, state Attorney General Offices have continuously bombard citizens with “public service announcements” urging citizens to call “hot lines” to report abuse of elders.

    Often times these calls to “elder abuse” hot lines are made “anonymously” with obvious underlying ill-motives, while other citizens are conned into thinking that they are going to be provided help to keep their family unit together when the state government has an established blatant and flagrant pattern of doing the exact opposite—they overtly seek to dismantle the family unit.

    Showing the true motives of the offices of the Attorney Generals, they disturbingly blast a narrative that the majority of elder exploitation supposedly occurs by family members. For example, see: Commonwealth of Massachusetts – Elder Financial Exploitation and Fraud: Is it a Problem and What Should Credit Unions Do?

    Established evidence shows that governmental abduction of family members involves all ages, all socio-economic backgrounds, and all ethnicities.

    My family’s personal miscarriage of justice is a prime example that no one is beyond the clutches of this long-embedded systemic criminal enterprise.

    Overwhelming court documentation shows that due process for accused family members is nonexistent.

    In fact, it is business as usual for these public officials to fabricate and manufacture information to abduct our family members.

    Don’t make the tragic mistake of thinking that state governmental medical kidnapping can’t happen to YOUR family.

    Some short & fast tips to help avoid state governmental intrusion into your family:
    • Do not initiate any proceeding in the probate & family court system
    • Do not use services offered by state protective services
    • Do not use services offered by local municipal organizations claiming to help the elderly, such as Council of Aging
    • Do not call Abuse Hotlines
    • Do not attend “free” publicly offered estate planning seminars
    Seemingly, it is human nature for people to want to avoid horrifying topics of conversation like medical kidnapping—not wanting to even conceive of the thought that this could happen to their family.

    People tend to bury their heads in the sand, but in reality, such reflex worsens the problem.

    A unified and cohesive movement by we, citizens, for accountability, is so needed where the insidiousness in which governmental medical kidnapping is so deep. If not now, when?

    Full Article & Source:
    Attorney: Elder “Protective Services” is a Racketeering Enterprise Medically Kidnapping Seniors

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  • 07/21/18--23:00: Concern over elder abuse
  • I think one of the least talked about and one of the most important current problems in this country is elder abuse, in a variety of forms.

    If you’re 65 or over, the problems associated with elder abuse should concern you. I didn’t pay much attention to this issue until I read an article about elder abuse in “The New Yorker” magazine recently. The upshot of the article was how easy it is in more populated areas of this country for unscrupulous people to become qualified as a guardian and then to be assigned to an elderly couple with all the powers of a guardian, which includes having people removed from their homes against their will and sent to a nursing home, selling all their possessions, and basically taking away everything they’ve worked hard for all their lives to pay not only the guardian, but for the nursing home care.

    What follows, therefore, is some basic information about elderly guardianships from a website called “findlaw.com.”

    Here’s a basic definition of what an elderly guardianship is: “Elderly guardianship, also known as elderly conservatorship, is a legal relationship created when a court appoints an individual to care for an elderly person who is no longer able to care for himself or herself.” The problem arises when elderly people are perfectly able to care for themselves but are merely alleged to be unable to do so any longer. “Unfortunately, an elderly person may become unable to care for himself or herself. This could include the inability to remember to take necessary medications, maintain regular hygiene, or properly manage finances. In these instances, it may be in the elderly person’s best interests for a court to appoint a guardian.”

    Again, it’s possible that the mere allegation of incompetence may be enough for a court to appoint a guardian without the elderly person even knowing about it. Of course, there are instances when an elderly person really does need a guardian appointed, but the danger arises when then don’t, but a guardian is appointed anyway.

    Who can petition the court to have a guardian appointed can include the elderly person himself or herself, the spouse or domestic partner of the elderly person, a relative, a friend, or even a state or government agency. The potential for abuse grows exponentially when the distance, both physical and emotional, increases.

    The important thing to remember if you’re over 65 is that a legally appointed guardian gets control of everything, your money, your possessions, and where you live. The guardian gets control, in other words, or your whole life!

    Here’s what the previously cited article says about some of the negatives associated with a guardianship: “Guardianship, by nature, requires the elderly person to lose some of his or her rights. For example, the elderly person may lose the right to manage his or her finances, to choose his or her own caretaker, and to decide where he or she lives. There’s also the risk that the guardian will fail to act in the best interests of the elderly person.”

    As a practical matter, an elderly person becomes as disempowered over their own life as a minor child would be.

    Some alternatives are available to a court appointed guardian. They include creating a living trust, giving one’s power of attorney to another person, or even appointment of what is called a “standby guardianship.” A standby guardianship means that, “the elderly person may designate someone as a standby guardian, in case the person loses the ability to care for himself or herself.” This method at least insures that the elderly person is picking the guardian instead of having someone appointed guardian who the elderly person may not even know. It is important to understand, however, that all these alternatives involve the elderly person willingly assigning his or her rights to another person.

    Here’s what the National Association to Stop Guardian Abuse says: “Over the years, guardianship law has been misapplied, misused, and sometimes just plain manipulated, until it has become a threat to the health and wealth to our elderly and disabled citizens. [The elderly] in these circumstances, are victimized under the deception of protection. Strangers are often given total and absolute control of life, liberty, and property of their wards, including being left defenseless and subject to neglect, abuse and or exploitation by the very people chosen to protect them; they become invisible and voiceless.”

    Here’s what the court said in a 1995 Iowa case, N.W.2nd 567, 573-74: “[The ward] may be deprived of control over his residence, his associations, his property, his diet, and his ability to go where he wishes. With the misconception that guardianship is always a good thing, proposed wards agree to it not understanding that their rights will be restricted.”

    Given the potential loss of liberty and freedom which the elderly have enjoyed all their lives, it just makes good sense to consult an attorney about how best to protect yourself from ending up being the ward of a court appointed guardian. We hear horror stories almost every day about child abuse, but precious little is heard about elderly abuse – particularly in light of the fact that a court appointed guardian is supposed to be acting in the best interests of the elderly person.

    The risks of elderly abuse in small town America are small, but it just makes good sense to consult an attorney while you still have all your wits about you to avoid ending up with nothing.
    That’s – 30 – for this week.

    Full Article & Source: 
    Concern over elder abuse

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    A man has been indicted on a charge he was taking money from a woman's trust that nearly led to her eviction from a nursing home.

    Gary Gaddie, 69, Huntsville, Texas, is charged with financial exploitation of an elderly person over the age of 80, a Class 1 felony.

    The woman was found to be a disabled adult on Nov. 13, 2012, and a guardian was appointed.

    The original guardian died in 2014 and Gaddie was appointed as a successor on Jan. 6, 2015.

    Instead of paying for the woman's care through social security and pension, Gaddie took the money for himself, buying a home and pickup truck instead, according to Effingham County State's Attorney Bryan Kibler.

    The indictment alleges the fraud extended from July 15, 2015 until June 14, 2018, when a petition to remove him as guardian was filed.

    The deception was discovered when an attorney for the woman reviewed the paperwork, Kibler said.

    Full Article & Source:
    Man charged with financial exploitation of nursing home resident

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    (KSFY) - A Douglas County man has been arrested on several counts connected to financial abuse of an elder.

    Forty-eight-year-old David Stetson of Corsica was arrested on three counts of felony exploitation, according to Attorney General Marty Jackley.

    Officials say the theft charge alleges that Stetson took funds from an elderly family member.

    Full Article & Source:
    Corsica man accused of elder abuse exploitation

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    Marianne Sage says she and her two sisters’ concern following the death of their father was not over money.
    All of Eddie Sage’s estate will go to the care of his wife, Juanita, who is slowly fading because of dementia in Cedar Falls, she said.
    Rather, they are bothered by what happened to Eddie’s car and some of the treasures he kept over his 91 years: wedding rings, Navajo jewelry and native art from when he taught on reservations, a World War II Navy trunk and memorabilia.
    They noticed the possessions were gone after the nonprofit retirement home in Cedar Falls where he and his wife lived recommended a for-profit estate-sale and moving company called Caring Transitions of Northeast Iowa.
    The owner of that franchise, Kerri Shimp, said she did nothing wrong.
    “Many people were in the life of Eddie Sage over a very long time. But this is a family that, for some reason, is targeting me,” she said.
    Here is what the sisters know: Caring Transitions was supposed to hold a sale last fall because Juanita needed to move into memory care and Eddie needed assisted living.
    Eddie Sage hired the company to help with his downsizing to a smaller apartment and the sale of Eddie’s car because his daughters lived out of state.
    When cancer caused Eddie’s health to decline quickly last November, one of the daughters came to visit from Texas and realized items were missing. She called Shimp and said she was told the only items that were removed from his apartment were not of value and were donated.
    Eddie died Nov. 13.
    On Dec. 4, Marianne Sage called from Arizona to follow up with Shimp. She wanted to see his contract with Caring Transitions.
    “Because my father’s physical health had so declined when he hired them, we wanted to see what services he had agreed to in the contract,” she said. “We felt certain he would not have knowingly parted with many of his prized possessions.”
    After weeks of correspondence and calls to Caring Transitions’ headquarters, Shimp produced a standard contract signed by an Eddie Sage and a general invoice suggesting an estate sale yielded $2,500.
    The invoice subtracted the company’s 40 percent fee, as well as $500 for packing, $500 for resettling and $300 for storing Eddie’s car and advertising its sale.
    But that invoice made no mention of a $750 check Eddie wrote the company before his death. A handwritten note said title to his car was transferred Dec. 7, two days after Marianne Sage called the company.
    Working through an estate lawyer, the sisters learned that the title of the 2010 Ford Focus was transferred to Shimp’s daughter. They were told it was sold for $1,800. They say the car’s Kelley Blue Book value was $3,800 to $5,000.
    “If the car was sold for $1,800, what was the other $700 worth of sales?” Sage asked Reader's Watchdog.
    “Also, the sale price she claimed it was sold for was $1,800, while the (Kelley) Blue Book value was $3,800 to $5,000. And why was there a $300 charge on the invoice for car storage and advertising if the car was kept in her family?”
    And the sisters had another problem: The signature on the contract didn’t look like his — not when he was healthy nor while he was dying, she said.
    “We are just angry that my father was clearly taken advantage of by someone who thought he was easy prey,” Sage wrote from Florence, Arizona.
    But Shimp said the daughters are hounding her and ignoring her lawyer’s attempt to right one of hundreds of estate moves that she's handled.
    In March, her lawyer, John Harris of Waterloo, wrote the sisters and offered to pay $2,000 more for Eddie’s Ford Focus or allow them to buy it back for $1,800.
    They did not take that offer and contacted police, Iowa’s attorney general and Watchdog instead.
    Seniors lack protection in Iowa
    The Sage sisters’ story raises a little-known fact about Iowa law, a state with the fourth highest percentage of residents over the age of 65 in the country, according to 2010 census figures.
    The vast majority of U.S. states have some sort of laws that try to protect seniors from financial exploitation, a huge and growing problem nationally as America’s population ages.
    During the 2017 legislative season,39 states and the District of Columbia introduced some sort of legislation addressing the exploitation of elderly and vulnerable adults, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
    Iowa law provides some protection from relatives, caregivers and people in positions of "trust or confidence" who financially exploit seniors.
    But it has no language, no enhanced penalties, no added fines for businesses who take advantage of the elderly, according to NCSL and the Iowa Attorney General's Office.
    By 2030, an estimated 72 million Americans will be 65 and older — up from 40 million in 2010.
    The Attorney General's Office said it has proposed financial exploitation legislation in 2014, but it failed. The office is considering legislation again for next year's session.
    In the estate-sale industry, examples abound of agents who exploit or outright steal from seniors. Some have intentionally overpriced items at their sales, so they don’t sell.
    Later, after they’ve purchased the item at a deep discount, they sell it for a healthy profit.
    The American Society of Estate Liquidators trains estate-sale agents and guides them on avoiding conflicts of interest, such as buying items at sales they run.
    But no Iowa law requires minimum standards for those who run estate sales or requires them to enter a bond to be in business.
    The upshot: Iowans’ protections are only as good as their contracts.
    Caring Transitions of Northeast Iowa's standard contract says plainly the prices of items sold will be determined by the company, that the client pays for the cost of the sale and the company will remit the net proceeds within 14 days. Itemization of items sold at sale costs extra.
    Perhaps that is why the sisters’ pleas to Iowa’s Attorney General and police yielded nothing.
    Business owner: I’m being hounded
    When Watchdog contacted Shimp, she said she was with her daughter, who was receiving treatment at the Mayo Clinic.
    She said the company never came across any jewelry, that Eddie’s $750 check went toward his move, and that his car, with 91,000 miles, was only worth $1,800.
    She said her national company’s corporate office has been trying to help her resolve the matter. But the sisters have been trying to stain her reputation.
    “I’m not interested in feeding into their smearing of me and my national company,” she said.
    She also said she was not trained by a national association.
    “I am following the rules with my company. I don’t have to share my franchise contract,” she said. “People can say there are standards and rules, but it’s not a regulated industry.”
    Shimp said any number of people could have taken Eddie’s jewelry and the other items, or he could have given them away. She questioned how the daughters could know what he did, since they lived out of state.
    When asked about the $300 charge to store the car and advertise its sale, she said she advertised the Focus for sale at the Cedar Falls nursing home with which she has a relationship.
    That charge, she said, was the price for her doing business.
    “I’ve been in this business six years and never had this situation before,” she said. “I have hundreds of clients who would say the complete opposite.”
    But Shimp also said the sisters can have the Ford Focus if they wanted it.
    “If they want the car back, just give them the car back. Whatever,” she said.
    Sage said she and her sisters didn't want the car and didn't want the money. They  wanted answers and accountability.
    Lee Rood's Reader's Watchdog column helps Iowans get answers and accountability from public officials, the justice system, businesses and nonprofits. Contact her at lrood@dmreg.com, 515-284-8549 on Twitter @leerood or at Facebook.com/readerswatchdog.

    Full Article & Source:
    What protections do seniors have when an estate sale goes wrong? Not many.

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    A Carthage man pleaded guilty this week to financial exploitation of an elderly Webb City resident.

    Brian E. Neher, 40, pleaded guilty to the charge at a hearing Monday in Jasper County Circuit Court in a plea agreement with the prosecutor's office. The state has agreed to dismiss a related count of receiving stolen property in exchange for the guilty plea.

    Circuit Judge Gayle Crane delayed formal acceptance or rejection of the plea deal and ordered a sentencing assessment of the defendant. The judge set a sentencing hearing for Sept. 10.

    A probable-cause affidavit filed by Detective Keith Meyer, with the Webb City Police Department, states that Neher accepted $2,500 cash and a check for $1,400 as payment for the purchase and installation of Ruud 80,000 BTU heating and air conditioning unit at the victim's residence on Goldpan Drive.

    The affidavit states that Neher never installed any unit for the victim and never returned any of the money.

    Full Article & Source: 
    Carthage man pleads guilty to cheating elderly victim

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    This may be the most painful symptom of mental illness and its impact on North Carolina families.

    According to North Carolina law, health care professionals can petition a court to revoke guardianship from a patient's parents or legal guardian, and instead assign a public guardian to manage the patients' medical care.

    'Our thoughts were, no way'

    David Bankert and Joanne Luterman are two such parents who approached the I-Team about their experience losing guardianship for their son, Ian.

    "We were shocked and blown away," Luterman told ABC11. "We want Ian to have some joy, to come home, lead a life with his family and have some sense of normalcy.

    Ian, 24, suffers from schizophrenia, and his parents say they first noticed signs of mental illness in high school. Though he did graduate, Ian spent the next several years going in and out of the hospital instead of going to college. Despite doctors' recommendations for more medication and long-term care, Bankert and Luterman instead insisted that a good diet, exercise and faith could restore Ian's sense of self.  (Click to Continue)

    Full Article & Source:
    'We were shocked:' I-Team investigates how doctors can take parents to court over guardianship

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    Donn Trenner, 91, estimates that two-thirds of his friends are dead.

    “That’s a hard one for me,” he said. “I’ve lost a lot of people.”

    As baby boomers age, more and more folks will reach their 80s, 90s — and beyond. They will not only lose friends but face the daunting task of making new friends at an advanced age.

    Friendship in old age plays a critical role in health and well-being, according to recent findings from the Stanford Center on Longevity’s Sightlines Project. Socially isolated individuals face health risks comparable to those of smokers, and their mortality risk is twice that of obese individuals, the study notes.

    Baby boomers are more disengaged with their neighbors and even their loved ones than any other generation, said Dr. Laura Carstensen, who is director of the Stanford Center on Longevity and herself a boomer, in her 60s. “If we’re disengaged, it’s going to be harder to make new friends,” she said.

    Trenner knows how that feels. In 2017, right before New Year’s, he tried to reach his longtime friend Rose Marie, former actress and co-star on the 1960s sitcom “The Dick Van Dyke Show.” Trenner traveled with Rose Marie as a pianist and arranger doing shows at senior centers along the Florida coast more than four decades ago.

    “When we were performing, you could hear all the hearing aids screaming in the audience,” he joked.

    The news that she’d died shook him to the core.

    Although she was a friend who, he said, cannot be replaced, neither her passing nor the deaths of dozens of his other friends and associates will stop Trenner from making new friends.

    That’s one reason he still plays, on Monday nights, with the Hartford Jazz Orchestra at the Arch Street Tavern in Hartford, Conn.

    For the past 19 years, he’s been the orchestra’s pianist and musical conductor. Often, at least one or two members of the 17-piece orchestra can’t make it to the gig but must arrange for someone to stand in for them. As a result, Trenner said, he not only has regular contact with longtime friends but keeps meeting and making friends with new musicians — most of whom are under 50.

    Twice divorced, he also remains good friends with both of his former wives. And not too long ago, Trenner flew to San Diego to visit his best friend, also a musician, who was celebrating his 90th birthday. They’ve known each other since they met at age 18 in the United States Army Air Corps. They still speak almost daily.

    “Friendship is not be taken for granted,” said Trenner. “You have to invest in friendship.”

    Even in your 90s, the notion of being a sole survivor can seem surprising.

    Perhaps that’s why 91-year-old Lucille Simmons of Lakeland, Fla., halts, midsentence, as she traces the multiple losses of friends and family members. She has not only lost her two closest friends, but a granddaughter, a daughter and her husband of 68 years. Although her husband came from a large family of 13 children, his siblings have mostly all vanished.

    “There’s only one living sibling — and I’m having dinner with him tonight,” said Simmons.

    Five years ago, Simmons left her native Hamilton, Ohio, to move in with her son and his wife, in a gated, 55-and-over community midway between Tampa and Orlando. She had to learn how to make friends all over again. Raised as an only child, she said, she was up to the task.

    Simmons takes classes and plays games at her community. She also putters around her community on a golf cart (which she won in a raffle) inviting folks to ride along with her.

    For his part, Trenner doesn’t need a golf cart.

    His personal formula for making friends is music, laughter and staying active. He makes friends whether he’s performing or attending music events or teaching.

    Simmons has her own formula. It’s a roughly 50-50 split of spending quality time with relatives (whom she regards as friends) and non-family friends. The odds are with her. This, after all, is a woman who spent 30 years as the official registrar of vital statistics for Hamilton. In that job, she was responsible for recording every birth — and every death — in the city.

    Experts say they’re both doing the right thing by not only remaining open to new friendships but constantly creating new ways to seek them out — even at an advanced age.

    Genuine friendships at any age typically require repeated contact, said Dr. Andrea Bonior, author of “The Friendship Fix: The Complete Guide to Choosing, Losing and Keeping Up with Your Friends.” She advises older folks to join group exercise classes or knitting or book clubs.

    She also suggests that seniors get involved in “altruistic behavior” like volunteering in a soup kitchen or an animal shelter or tutoring English as a second language.

    “Friendships don’t happen in a vacuum,” she said. “You don’t meet someone at Starbucks and suddenly become best friends.”

    Perhaps few understand the need for friendship in older years better than Carstensen, who, besides directing the Stanford Center on Longevity, is author of “A Long Bright Future: Happiness, Health and Financial Security in an Age of Increased Longevity.”

    Carstensen said that going back to school can be one of the most successful ways for an older person to make a new friend.

    Bonior recommends that seniors embrace social media. These social media connections can help older people strike up new friendships with nieces, nephews and even grandchildren, said Alan Wolfelt, an author, educator and founder of the Center for Loss and Life Transition.

    “It’s important to create support systems that don’t isolate you with your own generation.”

    Many older folks count their children as their best friends — and Carstensen said this can be a big positive on several levels.

    “I don’t think it matters who your friends are,” she said. “It’s the quality of the relationship that matters most.”

    Full Article & Source:
    Feel like the last friend standing? Here’s how to cultivate new buds as you age

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    Attorney General Josh Shapiro
    It’s good news, but the work here is only just beginning.
    The Issue:
    Prosecutors finally get the power to address mistreatment of people dependent on care.
    Our Opinion:
    It’s good news, but the work here is only just beginning.

    Pennsylvania's belated passage of elder-abuse legislation is a most welcome development, but there is still plenty of work to be done.

    Act 53, which expands prosecutorial powers to go after those who abuse a care-dependent person, was signed into law by Gov. Tom Wolf in late June. The law takes effect Aug. 27.

    The subject was high on the agenda at a recent luncheon hosted by the Berks County Area Agency on Aging. State Attorney General Josh Shapiro addressed the gathering at the Inn at Reading, Wyomissing, and praised state Rep. Jim Cox, the Spring Township Republican who sponsored the bill, for his persistence in getting the legislation passed. Shapiro also noted the work of Chief Deputy Attorney General Laurie Malone and reporting by the Reading Eagle for drawing more attention to the issue.

    It's certainly refreshing to hear Shapiro, a Democrat, praise the work of a Republican legislator in these divisive times, and it's gratifying to hear an elected official praise a media outlet rather than join in the press bashing that's all too popular with politicians.

    Clearly this is an issue that should inspire bipartisanship. The first version of this measure was introduced all the way back in 2007 after residents at a Lebanon County assisted living home were fed rotten food and put to work stuffing newspaper inserts. Similar bills were introduced every legislative session since then, yet only this summer did lawmakers finally achieve success.

    Act 53 amends the criminal statute to include language that addresses abuse of a care-dependent person, as well as neglect resulting in death. Previously, Pennsylvania did not have statutory provisions to prosecute abuse.

    Elder abuse can be physical, emotional, sexual or through neglect or financial exploitation, and it is on the rise. Pennsylvania Department of Health data show that substantiated abuse in nursing homes more than tripled from 2012 to 2016.

    The problem is expected only to worsen as the baby boom generation reaches old age.

    According to federal data, the Pennsylvania attorney general's office has prosecuted the lowest percentage of patient care cases of all states. The amended statute is expected to change that.

    The new law is a good start, but it fails to include penalties for those who fail to report suspected abuse to law enforcement. A November Reading Eagle investigation found that these crimes go unreported all too frequently. Legislators should tackle that issue next.

    And while Harrisburg has an important role to play in addressing the problem, legislation alone won't solve it.

    Elder-abuse education is critical so that people who know or work with older individuals are able to recognize signs of a problem early enough to do something about it.

    According to the state Department of Aging, abuse warning signs include isolation, weight loss, bruises or broken bones, increased confusion, unusual account withdrawals and signing over a home. People aware of any situations involving elder abuse should call 800-490-8505.

    Crimes involving mistreatment of older people are just as serious as those involving domestic partners and children. It's time for them to receive the same level of attention. All of us can play a role in making that happen.

    Full Article & Source:
    Editorial: Elder-abuse law a good start toward tackling problem

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    Many Americans with disabilities continue to have difficulties covering their monthly expenses as they age, despite myriad federal disability supports, according to U.S. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), chairman of the Senate Aging Committee, who thinks they need additional financial options.

    “More than 56 million people in the United States live with a disability, and about 34 million of them are at the working age of 16 to 64,” the senator said in her opening statement during the committee’s July 18 hearing, entitled Supporting Economic Stability and Self-Sufficiency as Americans with Disabilities and their Families Age.

    “It hasn’t always been easy, however, for people with disabilities who can and want to work to save for their own futures,” Sen. Collins said, noting that federal law caps the assets of a single person with disabilities who receives Supplemental Security Income (SSI) at $2,000.

    “Being able to save money to make necessary modifications to a car, or a home, or just to pay for unexpected life events, can preserve the independence of individuals with disabilities. And aging parents of disabled children should also feel secure about their children’s futures as they enter into their own retirement years,” she added.

    During the hearing, lawmakers and witnesses discussed federal policies, including ABLE accounts, a government system to help people with disabilities save money while they continue to receive their SSI benefits.

    “Parents of children with disabilities were once discouraged from saving for their children’s future. This led to needless worry, sleepless nights and a lack of financial security,” Sen. Collins said. “Today, ABLE accounts offer a means to saving that can turn the tide. These options provide a sense of security to help produce a brighter future full of hope.”

    ABLE accounts were established under the 2014 Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act, a federal law that Sen. Collins cosponsored. Thus far, 39 states have started an ABLE program under the act. The senator’s home state of Maine is currently implementing an ABLE program to assist people with disabilities, according to a July 20 statement from her office.

    But witnesses testified during the Senate Aging Committee hearing that many government-sponsored public support programs inadvertently prevent low-income individuals and families, including those with disabilities, from maintaining their eligibility for disability benefits.

    For instance, Edward Mitchell, an independent living specialist for the Jackson Area Center for Independent Living in Jackson, Tenn., whose legs, hands and a portion of his chest are paralyzed from an injury, testified he’s only permitted to work part-time jobs so he may retain his federal benefits.

    “I have been gaining experience and have completed my masters, but I can’t accept a full salary because it would impact my nursing benefits,” Mitchell said. “If I accepted a full salary, I would make too much and lose my disability benefits, but I would not make enough to directly pay for nursing care, even if I gave the home care agency my entire check.”

    Likewise, in Pennsylvania, the state’s ABLE program currently has more than 1,400 account holders with $8.3 million under management, testified Jack Stollsteimer, Deputy State Treasurer for Consumer Programs and Public Engagement in the Pennsylvania Office of the State Treasurer in Harrisburg.

    “And each of those account owners has their own story as to why ABLE is the best option for them to save, pay bills and make debit card purchases through their PA ABLE account,” Stollsteimer said.

    “We have made so much progress – but we have so much more work to do,” he added, noting there are more than 60,000 children with disabilities in Pennsylvania. “With ongoing support from federal and state policy makers, our goal is to reach as many of them as we can,” said Stollsteimer.

    Sen. Collins pointed out that roughly 27 percent of Americans with disabilities live in poverty, “the highest rate of any subgroup in the country.”

    “This figure demonstrates why we must provide these individuals with more opportunities for financial freedom and stability, particularly during their older years,” said the senator.

    Full Article & Source:
    Aging Americans with disabilities require more options for financial stability, Collins says

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    Zelma Haskell, 85, at a rehabilitation center on Staten Island. She was swindled by a waitress and lost her Brooklyn home of 46 years.Credit Sam Hodgson for The New York Times
    Zelma Haskell had been married to her husband, Irwin, for more than 50 years, and when he died in 2003, she was lost.

    “He was everything to me,” she said in a recent interview, looking back over the years that followed his death — years of practically unfathomable loss and theft hidden behind the smile of a friend — to the place where it all began.

    She was 71 years old, a lunchtime regular at the Arch Diner near her home in Canarsie, Brooklyn. The Ralph Avenue eatery was a throwback classic of the form, shot through with neon piping above the counter. She had gone with her husband, and later she often ate alone.

    Around the time she became a widow, she met a waitress there named Alicia Legall. They hit it off right away, and Ms. Haskell began seeking her out when she went to the diner so she could sit at one of her tables.

    “Pretty, and so sweet,” Ms. Haskell, now 85, recalled. “I liked her immediately.”

    Ms. Haskell had two children, a son in New Jersey and a daughter on Staten Island. Her daughter was mentally disabled and required regular care and financial support.

    “What I wanted to do with my real daughter was difficult,” she said. Ms. Legall, in her 30s, was just a little younger than her own children. “I was so happy. I had a new daughter,” she said. “She started to call me ‘Mommy.’”

    Ms. Legall, from Trinidad and Tobago, had been a waitress since she was 13, she wrote on her LinkedIn page. “I love making people especially young children and elderly happy with food and a smile!” she wrote.

    The two women spent more and more time together outside the diner. “She started taking me food shopping and different places,” Ms. Haskell said. “I ended up buying her a car, a very nice used car.”

    Ms. Legall became a guest at family events, bringing her own young children along, and pictures of her family hung in Ms. Haskell’s home.

    “At first, she brought a lot of joy into my life,” Ms. Haskell said.

    But she also took. The women had visited Ms. Haskell’s HSBC Bank branch on Ralph several times, and Ms. Legall had access to Ms. Haskell’s account information. At some point several years ago, she told Ms. Haskell that she had taken money that had been in a savings account that had belonged to Mr. Haskell. She needed it to pay a debt, she said.

    “It sounded like maybe she’d give it back to me,” Ms. Haskell said. “I was so naïve.”

    The incident had no impact on their bond. “I’m still ‘Mommy,’” Ms. Haskell said. “I saw her a lot.” The two visited nearby restaurants and took selfies that Ms. Legall posted online.

    In 2013, Ms. Haskell’s last surviving sister, Marcy, died in Florida. Ms. Legall traveled with her for the funeral. “She helped me on the airplane,” Ms. Haskell recalled. “It was like a little vacation for her.”

    Four more years passed this way. Then Ms. Haskell’s son, Lloyd, a physician, received a certified letter that stunned him. A bank was going to foreclose on his mother’s home because she was not paying fees related to a reverse mortgage for $424,000.

    Reverse mortgage? His mother lived comfortably within her means. She didn’t travel or buy expensive clothes. A splurge for her was adding to her extensive collection of dolls. What did she need $400,000 for?

    He asked her. She said she had taken out the money for Ms. Legall, who needed it to pay another debt. Mr. Haskell, mad at himself for believing Ms. Legall was looking after his mother, went to the police and was referred to financial-crimes detectives. They opened a case and discovered the scope of the fraud and loss.

    The theft began immediately after the women met, the police said.

    Ms. Legall forged and cashed 75 checks totaling more than $200,000. She opened several credit cards and ran up an eclectic range of charges to Apple, JetBlue, Victoria’s Secret, and clubs and restaurants in Miami.

    In addition, Ms. Legall bet heavily on horse races. She racked up expenses in New York Racing Association buffets and bars, at Belmont Park, and online at betting sites like TwinSpires at Churchill Downs.

    “It appears she had a gambling issue,” Detective Jackson Todd said in an interview. “She bet on horses a lot.”

    Detectives arrested Ms. Legall on Oct. 17 at her home on East 55th Street in Flatlands, Brooklyn. She denied any wrongdoing, telling the police that Ms. Haskell gave her a credit card for errands and shopping, and that she repaid her for any personal purchases, according to a summary of her statements to the police.

    She said the reverse mortgage had been Ms. Haskell’s idea. “She wanted to give Alicia and her family money,” the police said Ms. Legall told detectives. She said she was expecting a $700,000 settlement from a civil matter and $60,000 on a “race horse transaction.”

    Ms. Legall was indicted in Brooklyn on charges of grand larceny and forgery. The indictment accused her of stealing more than $470,000 from Ms. Haskell.

    “Over the course of several years, Legall became a trusted confident and gained access to the woman’s personal information, including her date of birth, Brooklyn residential address, Social Security number and bank and credit card information,” the indictment states.

    On April 25, Ms. Legall pleaded guilty to grand larceny. She was sentenced this month to three to nine years in prison. She lived in the house in Flatlands with a man and two of her teenage children; they declined to comment, as did her lawyer.

    The news came as a shock to her colleagues at the Arch Diner. “She was a good waitress,” said Louie Leonidou, an owner. He remembered the two women together. “Even after she quit as a waitress, she would come in as a customer, with her,” he said.

    In the fallout of the reverse mortgage, Ms. Haskell lost her home of 46 years. Her family is fighting in the courts to get it back, but her future there is far from certain. She is crippled by arthritis and could not climb her own front steps. She has lived in a cramped room at a Staten Island rehabilitation center for about a year.

    “My house was all paid for,” she said. “I was a mess.”

    She was asked if she had a photo someplace of her and Ms. Legall together. She reached for her purse and pulled out a snapshot, wrinkled and worn, of the two women smiling at the camera. After everything that happened, why would she still carry this picture around?

    She sighed and answered with a shrug: “The memories.”

    Full Article & Source: 
    She Found Comfort in a Brooklyn Diner, Then Lost Everything

    See Also:
    Waitress Accused Of Scamming Elderly Woman Out Of Nearly $500,000

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  • 07/25/18--22:00: Concern over elder abuse
  • Here’s a basic definition of what an elderly guardianship is: “Elderly guardianship, also known as elderly conservatorship, is a legal relationship created when a court appoints an individual to care for an elderly person who is no longer able to care for himself or herself.” The problem arises when elderly people are perfectly able to care for themselves but are merely alleged to be unable to do so any longer. “Unfortunately, an elderly person may become unable to care for himself or herself. This could include the inability to remember to take necessary medications, maintain regular hygiene, or properly manage finances. In these instances, it may be in the elderly person’s best interests for a court to appoint a guardian.”

    Again, it’s possible that the mere allegation of incompetence may be enough for a court to appoint a guardian without the elderly person even knowing about it. Of course, there are instances when an elderly person really does need a guardian appointed, but the danger arises when then don’t, but a guardian is appointed anyway.

    Who can petition the court to have a guardian appointed can include the elderly person himself or herself, the spouse or domestic partner of the elderly person, a relative, a friend, or even a state or government agency. The potential for abuse grows exponentially when the distance, both physical and emotional, increases.

    The important thing to remember if you’re over 65 is that a legally appointed guardian gets control of everything, your money, your possessions, and where you live. The guardian gets control, in other words, or your whole life!

    Here’s what the previously cited article says about some of the negatives associated with a guardianship: “Guardianship, by nature, requires the elderly person to lose some of his or her rights. For example, the elderly person may lose the right to manage his or her finances, to choose his or her own caretaker, and to decide where he or she lives. There’s also the risk that the guardian will fail to act in the best interests of the elderly person.”

    As a practical matter, an elderly person becomes as disempowered over their own life as a minor child would be.

    Some alternatives are available to a court appointed guardian. They include creating a living trust, giving one’s power of attorney to another person, or even appointment of what is called a “standby guardianship.” A standby guardianship means that, “the elderly person may designate someone as a standby guardian, in case the person loses the ability to care for himself or herself.” This method at least insures that the elderly person is picking the guardian instead of having someone appointed guardian who the elderly person may not even know. It is important to understand, however, that all these alternatives involve the elderly person willingly assigning his or her rights to another person.

    Here’s what the National Association to Stop Guardian Abuse says: “Over the years, guardianship law has been misapplied, misused, and sometimes just plain manipulated, until it has become a threat to the health and wealth to our elderly and disabled citizens. [The elderly] in these circumstances, are victimized under the deception of protection. Strangers are often given total and absolute control of life, liberty, and property of their wards, including being left defenseless and subject to neglect, abuse and or exploitation by the very people chosen to protect them; they become invisible and voiceless.”

    Here’s what the court said in a 1995 Iowa case, N.W.2nd 567, 573-74: “[The ward] may be deprived of control over his residence, his associations, his property, his diet, and his ability to go where he wishes. With the misconception that guardianship is always a good thing, proposed wards agree to it not understanding that their rights will be restricted.”

    Given the potential loss of liberty and freedom which the elderly have enjoyed all their lives, it just makes good sense to consult an attorney about how best to protect yourself from ending up being the ward of a court appointed guardian. We hear horror stories almost every day about child abuse, but precious little is heard about elderly abuse – particularly in light of the fact that a court appointed guardian is supposed to be acting in the best interests of the elderly person.

    The risks of elderly abuse in small town America are small, but it just makes good sense to consult an attorney while you still have all your wits about you to avoid ending up with nothing.

    That’s – 30 – for this week.

    Full Article & Source:
    Concern over elder abuse

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    Johnnie Shane Munsey
    An Andersonville man and two Andersonville women have been charged with financial exploitation of an elderly or vulnerable person and theft of more than $60,000, according to Anderson County court records.

    The three are Johnnie Shane Munsey, 46; Phyllis Joan Spradling, 71; and Tammie Jo Munsey, 42. They were indicted by the Anderson County Grand Jury in Clinton on July 10. The two exploitation and theft charges are both Class B felonies.

    The three defendants, who all live at the same address in Andersonville, are accused of financially exploiting an elderly or vulnerable adult between December 30, 2015, through November 1, 2017, the court records said.

    And they are accused of obtaining property, including but not limited to U.S. currency valued at more than $60,000, from the victim, Jimmy Spradling, without his consent, the indictments said.

    Phyllis Joan Spradling
    Phyllis Joan Spradling
    The three defendants are scheduled to be arraigned in Anderson County Criminal Court in Clinton on July 30.

    Leslie Miller of the Clinton Police Department is listed as a witness for the state, according to the grand jury indictments. Also summoned for the state was First Tennessee Bank.

    The indictments don’t say where the alleged theft and exploitation took place.

    All three of the defendants were arrested Monday, July 16, and released from the Anderson County Detention Facility in Clinton within a day or two. Bond for each has been set at $75,000.


    Full Article & Source:
    Three charged with financial exploitation, theft of more than $60,000

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    A Pella woman has been charged with financial exploitation and dependent adult abuse of a Newton resident, after a federal Financial Crimes Enforcement Network tip notified local police of more than $113,799 in potentially misappropriated money.

    According to the Newton Police Department, 36-year-old Christan D. Maddison allegedly used the funds to purchase $15,500 in plastic surgery, as well as pay her own utility bills, tattoos, rent, car and credit card payments and fast food after she became the elderly victim’s power of attorney in February of 2017. Authorities were first alerted to the abuse reports in April.

    Investigators claim the abuse happened while the victim was in a nursing home and unable to manage her own financial accounts. A reported $194,533 in annuities, investments and social security payments over the 14 months Maddison was POA for the victim were deposited into an account managed by Maddison. Police said $80,756 did go to the victim’s care during that time period, leaving the $113,779 in missing money.

    Maddison was charged July 1, and released pending her scheduled court appearance at 8:30 a.m. Aug. 14.

    Full Article & Source:
    Pella woman allegedly steals $113K from Newton victim in dependent abuse case

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    The Marin County Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a resolution last week to allow for an additional 30-day involuntary psychiatric hold, resulting in a total of 47 days of possible treatment for those deemed a danger to themselves or others. The additional hold will give clinicians more time to assess and stabilize clients, who are admitted to Marin General Hospital in Kentfield. “The legislative intent of [the resolution] is to really reduce the number of gravely disabled persons who we conserve,” said Dr. Jei Africa, director of the Behavioral Health and Recovery Services division of Marin Health and Human Services. He was referring to conservatorships, in which a judge appoints a legal guardian responsible for managing an individual’s financial affairs, health care and living arrangements, significantly curtailing that person’s civil rights. People placed under the extended holds are still entitled to due process through a review hearing after the initial 72-hour evaluation, or by filing for habeas corpus. In 2015, the latest year for which data is publicly available, 1,248 people in Marin were held for an initial 72-hour psychiatric evaluation. Out of those, 82 were assigned to permanent conservatorships. Similar resolutions extending the psychiatric hold have passed in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Solano, resulting in fewer permanent conservatorships—only 38 in San Francisco in 2015. In Marin, the resolution was originally proposed in May, but was put on hold to allow for more community feedback. Several members of the public spoke up at last Tuesday’s meeting in support of the resolution (no one spoke against it). The executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Kelli Finley, offered strong support for the resolution as an additional resource, and said she’s had discussions with over 300 family members and consumers dealing with mental illness. Alyssa Bradley, a lifetime Marin resident who said she was held—she believes wrongly—at Saint Helena Hospital for six days under an involuntary psychiatric hold, also spoke in support. “I do think this is a very, very, very good idea to have these 30-day holds…to fully assess [a client’s] situation before they are forced into a conservatorship,” she said.

    Full Article & Source:
    County hopes longer psychiatric hold will stem conservatorships

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    On July 23, six days before Probate Judge Terrance Lomme turns 70 and must retire, his successor, Attorney Jeannine Lewis, was sworn in by Old Saybrook First Selectman Carl Fortuna, Jr. Lewis was the winner of a special election to fill Lomme’s seat.

    “It’s a joyous occasion to swear in our new judge of probate, Jeannine Lewis,” said Fortuna. “I’ve known Judge Jeannine for over 10 years. She’s a great mother, a superior lawyer, and an exceptionally good person. Those attributes will make her an exceptional judge of probate.

    “Nine towns recognized her intelligence and enduring compassion,” said Fortuna in commenting on her solid special election win.

    The District 33 Probate Court over which Lewis will preside has its offices on the third floor of the Old Saybrook Town Hall on Main Street. The court serves nine towns: Chester, Clinton, Deep River, Essex, Haddam, Killingworth, Lyme, Old Saybrook and Westbrook. This type of court handles various family matters including appointments of conservators, civil commitments, appointments and oversight of guardians, paternity claims, granting of adoptions, granting of name changes, removing life support, and removing a child from custody of parents who fail to provide suitable living conditions.

    The swearing-in ceremony and celebration of Lewis’ new post was held under the canopy at The Kate on the Town Green. Representatives from many of the nine towns she’ll serve attended alongside Town of Old Saybrook staff, elected officials, and her family and friends.

    After being sworn, Lewis spoke of her path to the judgeship, and of the challenges she faced along the way.

    “Many of the you know I had a humble upbringing in a shoreline town. I got into Brown where I [earned] a degree in biology,” said Lewis.

    The job she secured after graduation, relying on her biology degree, was working for Pfizer in neuroscience research. The switch to law came later.

    Just before she started a family, she decided to leave Pfizer and go to law school; she graduated from the University of Connecticut School of Law in 2005. While still nursing and caring for a one-year old, she studied for and passed the bar exam, a time she describes as incredibly challenging. Starting her own private law practice came after that. It was from this platform that she launched her bid to become probate court judge.

    Her recent career highlights included being appointed to serve on the Conservatorship Guidelines Committee, a committee composed of attorneys who appear before probate courts as well as probate court judges, and acting as co-author of a 70-page training manual titled Court-Appointed Attorneys in Courts of Probate.

    “There are 54 probate judges in Connecticut and [of those judges], 14 are women. Only a handful are under the age of 50,” said Lewis, one of those judges under age 50.

    Then she spoke directly to the young people listening, and in particular, to her own children who were there in the audience.

    “For young people, when we defy unimaginable odds, it’s a sign we’re on a path we’re supposed to be following. You have to push forward, one goal at a time. We need to teach them their destiny’s is about overcoming fear of failure,” said Lewis. “I think you for the honor and privilege to serve today as your probate judge.”

    Lewis’s first day of work at Old Saybrook Town Hall’s Probate Court offices will be on Monday, July 30. Although her name will appear on the November ballot as a candidate for probate court judge, with no opposition, Lewis will be elected then to serve her first four-year term as probate court judge of District 33.

    Full Article & Source:
    Lewis Takes Over for Probate Judge Lomme on July 28

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