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

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    Registered sex offenders with some of the state’s worst designations are being illegally moved into group homes with developmentally disabled individuals, according to a report by upstate radio station WENY. 
    The report states that as many as 25 sexual offenders have been moved within group homes and facilities by the New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD). The report notes that those figures come following an investigation of “only a few counties,” and have been connected to the Jonathan Carey Foundation .

    According to the report , “the few counties researched to date paint a picture of a massive extremely dangerous problem that must be immediately addressed and stopped now.”

    As of Monday, Sept. 24, there were convicted Level 2 and Level 3 sex offenders at group homes and OPWDD facilities in Washington, Saratoga, Franklin and Suffolk counties. Level 2 threats are deemed an offender is a “moderate risk to repeat the offense, according to the New York State Division of Criminal Justice. Level 3 offenders are a “high-risk repeat offender and possible threats to public safety.”

    In response to the discovery of the sex offenders living in his homes and facilities throughout the state, Michael Carey, the founder of the Jonathan Carey organization where the offenders were found, has repeatedly claimed that it illegally endangers the welfare of the disabled, according to multiple reports. He has also questioned the legality of placing sex offenders with developmentally disabled. Carey has reportedly already reached out to law enforcement officials throughout the state to make them aware of the situation.

    OPWDD officials declined to comment about specific cases, but noted that the organization “only provides services for people with a diagnosed developmental disability as defined by state law and (the OPWDD) is obligated under the law to provide needed services to those who qualify regardless of a person’s clinical or forensic history.”

    Full Article & Source:
    NY Illegally Moving Sex Offenders Into Group Homes With Disabled, Report Says

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

    Please join me with Brian Kinter of Judicial Accountability Movement, and David Jose who is one of the foremost experts on the system used to illegally steal children from their parents for profit. This show is important to all families out there who have been targeted by the human trafficking of children, the disabled and the elderly through these abusive and unconstitutional contract courts. You would know then better as tribunals. No crime, no wrongdoing, NO JURISDICTION! But lots of federal and state funding to make it a very lucrative business.

    Child Protective Services and the abuse of these so-called courts will be front and center. Listen in as David explains what kind of “court” you are actually being subjected to. As he will explain …it is NOT a court of record. Neither is probate! This will explain why they do not adhere to due process, rules of evidence or codes of civil procedure as they would be forced to in a court of LAW.

    David will be discussing the use of Title 42 USC statutes used to deploy this system and other resources specifically created to facilitate this system of trafficking on all levels.

    Please be sure to tune in and have paper and pen handy to take notes. The show will be available in Archive also and can be downloaded as an MP3.

    LISTEN to the show LIVE, or listen to the show later

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    A Sydney nursing assistant who repeatedly slapped an 85-year-old dementia patient and hit her in the face with her own bathroom rubbish has been spared jail.

    Dana Maree Gray, 59, was in August sentenced to 17 months' imprisonment with a six-month non-parole period for assaulting the "entirely dependent" woman while working at The Poplars nursing home in North Epping in August 2017.

    However, at Burwood Local Court on Thursday, magistrate Robyn Denes ordered Gray serve the sentence by way of home detention.

    Gray had worked in the dementia unit of the home since December 2013 when she walked into the "vulnerable" woman's bedroom and unleashed the "domestic violence" attack, Ms Denes said upon sentencing last month.

    The magistrate condemned Gray's abuse of her "position of trust" and the way her offending came to light.

    Footage of the assault, tendered in court, was shot on a GoPro camera hidden by a colleague of Gray's who feared for the residents' safety.

    It shows Gray raising the woman's bed to chest height so she can't sit or lay down, aggressively pulling off her clothes, slapping her repeatedly and grabbing her hair before hitting her twice in the face with a bag of rubbish.

    Ms Denes refused in June to hear the matter under the Mental Health Act and Gray was also deemed "unsuitable" to serve any sentence via community service due to an arm disability.

    Her home detention sentence expires on February 19, 2020.

    Full Article & Source:
    NSW woman spared jail over elderly assault

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    | Stories by Jeff Smith of Anderson Broadcasting for the Valley Journal

    The former Financial Coordinator of Mission Mountain Enterprises, Jessica Lynn Kaliman, 39, of Clayton, Washington, was committed to the state Department of Corrections for three years with all but one day jail time already served suspended. Kaliman had entered a plea of guilty at District Court in Polson on Aug. 16 to one count of exploitation of an elder or disabled person.

    According to charging documents, Kaliman became Financial Coordinator at MME June 27, 2017. Among other services, MME manages funds for people who are incapacitated or developmentally disabled. As the Financial Coordinator, Kaliman was responsible for managing funds of MME’s residents and was in charge of ordering any goods they might need. Alongside the orders needed by the residents, Kaliman allegedly purchased $1,895.13 worth of goods for herself through Amazon and Harvest Foods from the residents' funds. Kaliman was fired Feb. 9.

    In addition to the suspended sentence, District Judge Kim Christopher ordered Kaliman to pay restitution in the amount of $2,167.52.

    Full Article & Source:
    Kaliman sentenced for exploitation

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    Georgia Arenz
    NORFOLK, Va. - Two parents charged with neglecting their disabled son are going to trial after a judge found enough evidence during Tuesday's probable cause hearing.

    A timeline was established in court, stemming from an initial call to 911 on May 22, 2018 for a domestic disturbance. Officers testified Philip Arenz, 55, had called police because his wife was not allowing him to take their son to the ER.

    54-year-old Georgia Arenz was described by all parties to be the main caregiver of her and Philip's son, 24-year-old Jason Arenz, a disabled man born with cerebral palsy. Police allowed Philip to take Jason to the hospital after seeing the need for treatment.

    The Commonwealth's Attorney called witnesses to testify about the condition Jason was in when police got to the Harrell Avenue residence. The responding officer described the home as "filthy," with a "smell that was very pungent and horrible."  This officer said he never observed the victim in his bed because his view to the bedroom was blocked with items stacked on top of each other.

    Phillip Arenz
    When Philip Arenz removed his son from the house, the officer described the victim to be frail and skeletal, "looking like a Holocaust victim."

    After the initial call, detectives took over the case and visited the victim in the hospital, where court documents describe medical staff recorded seeing severe bed sores, open wounds showing bone and tissue, open skin infected with maggots and severe undernourishment.

    A detective who interviewed Philip and Georgia Arenz testified that he went to the home as well and saw the state of Jason's bed, with stains and filth. He also describing the putrid smell as a "stench consistent with undetermined death investigations."

    This detective told the court that Philip told him he was often at work and Georgia was Jason's primary caregiver. According to evidence, Georgia had always been the one to feed and bathe Jason, as he has always needed care due to his cerebral palsy.

    The detective said in his recorded interview with Georgia Arenz she made statements like, "This is why I am not a good mother," and admitted to neglecting her son.

    Evidence presented shows Georgia had serious medical issues of her own, such as congestive heart failure, diabetes and kidney diseases. There were also statements made during the investigation that Philip had to pass by Jason's room multiple times a week, but many times his son was covered with a blanket.

    After interviews were conducted, the testimony is court concluded that Jason was neglected for at least four weeks, left bedridden without proper medical treatment or enough to eat.

    In May 2018, Philip and Georgia Arenz were arrested, both charged with abuse and neglect of an incapacitated adult and aggravated malicious wounding.

    Defense counsel moved to strike the aggravated malicious wounding charge, saying there was no "act" committed to harm Jason, more an inaction. The judge ruled the injuries to the victim are so severe that the inaction itself was malicious.

    The court ruled to seal the file for many of the pictures of the victim and the home are graphic and disturbing.

    A trial date for Philip and Georgia Arenz will be set once charges are heard by the grand jury.

    Full Article & Source:
    Officer describes disturbing scene incapacitated adult was left in as accused parents head to trial in Norfolk

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    The nation's guardianship system is a failure. It puts people in the hands of others with little or no evidence of necessity, but to create a for profit industry for court-appointed lawyers.

    "Who's Guarding the Guardians"

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    PAULDING – Paulding County Probate Judge Michael A. Wehrkamp has announced the creation of a volunteer guardianship program to help those in the community live with the dignity they deserve. Judge Wehrkamp and his staff will host two informational open houses in October for those interested in serving their fellow residents as a volunteer guardian.

    “Sometimes an adult is not able to manage his or her own affairs because of advanced age or a mental or physical disability, and when this occurs, it may be necessary for a guardian to assume the decision-making responsibilities for the person,” said Wehrkamp. “In recent years, the demand for this individualized care has grown beyond capacity, and our new program aims to provide a pool of screened and trained volunteers to serve as guardians to fill the gap.”

    A guardian is an adult appointed by the Probate Court to protect, act and make decisions for a person in need of a guardian, known as a ward.

    Currently in Paulding County, there are residents who do not have a family member or other suitable person willing to serve as their guardian. In the past, the Court has turned to local attorneys to serve as guardians in these cases.

    However, the number of cases in the Probate Court has grown to the point that local attorneys no longer meet the demand.

    Those interested in serving in this volunteer role are invited to attend an upcoming informational open house on Thursday, Oct. 4, from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. or Wednesday, Oct. 24, from 5- 7 p.m. at the Black Swamp Nature Center, 503 Fairground Drive, Paulding, Ohio.

    Alternatively, individuals may contact the Probate Court at 419-399-8256 to learn more.

    Full Article & Source:

    Paulding County Probate Court to launch volunteer guardianship program

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    Texas Supreme Court building. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
    The Texas Supreme Court will soon decide whether a lawyer should be disqualified from a contested guardianship case involving an 88-year-old woman because he helped his legal assistant get a $350,000 loan from the woman, wrote her will and later helped his employee be appointed as her guardian.

    The case, In Re Thetford, concerns Verna Thetford, who resides in a Graham assisted living facility, according to documents. In 2012, Thetford loaned her niece, Jamie Rogers, money to purchase property. Graham attorney Alfred G. “Rusty” Allen III, Rogers’ longtime employer, prepared the loan. Three years later, Allen prepared a will for Thetford that appointed Rogers as power of attorney.

    However, when Thetford attempted to revoke the power of attorney in 2017, Rogers pursued guardianship over Thetford and used Allen as her lawyer, documents said.

    Thetford later filed a motion to disqualify Allen from the guardianship, alleging his representation of Rogers was adverse to Thetford, and that Allen’s adverse representation in the guardianship matter is substantially related to his prior representation of Thetford.

    Allen argued that Thetford was declared legally incapacitated by her doctor, and that it was his affirmative duty under the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct to protect Thetford’s wellbeing and to initiate the guardianship proceedings.

    A trial court denied Thetford’s motion to disqualify Allen. Thetford later filed a writ of mandamus with Fort Worth Second Court of Appeals challenging the decision, but the court denied her petition.

    Thetford later appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, arguing that the Texas disciplinary rule of professional conduct 1.02(g) does not permit Allen’s representation of a third party with adverse interests to his client.

    The high court accepted the case for review and is to hear arguments in the case Oct. 10.

    “The issue in this case is whether the ethical rules authorize Mr. Allen as Verna’s longtime lawyer to represent Verna’s niece, who is indebted to Verna and to sue Verna in Guardianship,” said Mary Barkley, a partner in Fort Worth’s Cantey Hanger, who represents Thetford. “Rule 1.02 (g) says that when a lawyer believes their client is lacking in mental capacity, they shall take reasonable action in securing a guardian or someone to act on their behalf. The issue here is that Mr. Allen believes that 1.02 mandated him to sue Verna and pursue the guardianship.”

    “And what we’re saying is that statute for that rule is contemplating reasonable action. Reasonable action could be any number of things,” Barkley said. “But when [Allen] represented a third party—the niece who was admittedly indebted to Verna at the time he accepted the representation and was also his employee—he ran afoul of the ethical rules.”

    In his brief, Allen notes that, at the time the 2012 loan was transacted, Rogers was not an employee of his firm—she worked there from 1985 to 2005, and returned in 2016—and that the loan was eventually paid to Thetford in full. He also argues that the conflict of interest rules do not apply to the case because the guardianship proceeding is not adverse to Thetford as a matter of law, and Allen’s prior representation of Thetford is not substantially related to the guardianship proceeding.

    Allen said he plans to argue the case himself at the Supreme Court but will be assisted by Don Herrmann, a partner in Fort Worth’s Kelly Hart & Hallman.

    “In view of the fact that we’ve got an argument in front of the Supreme Court in a few weeks, I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to comment about the case except to say I’ve done my best and I feel like I acted appropriately in accordance with the Texas disciplinary rules in all of my representation of Mrs. Thetford and this guardianship,’’ Allen said.

    Herrmann also believes that Allen acted ethically.

    “I think Mr. Allen acted appropriately within the rules and I’m reluctant to comment about the case in advance of the hearing on Oct. 10,’’ Herrmann said.

    Full Article & Source:
    Texas Supreme Court to Weigh Ethics of Lawyer's Role in Elderly Woman's Guardianship Case

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    Occasionally, I’ll walk into a room and forget why. Or, my adult children will say, “Mom, you already told us this story” or “Mom, you just asked me that question.” It happens to all of us, but sometimes I wonder—am I a little forgetful or is it something more serious?

    senior couple looking at financial forms
    Credit: Getty Royalty Free
    It's natural to fear age-related cognitive decline but it might be less of a threat than you imagine, according to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College study “Cognitive Aging and the Capacity to Manage Money.” The study finds that most people in their 70s and 80s will be able to manage their own finances despite normal cognitive changes associated with age. That’s great for the majority; however, individuals who develop a cognitive impairment (whether mild or more severe like dementia or Alzheimer’s) may see a substantial reduction in their financial capacity and need someone to step in for them.

    The research indicates that cognitive impairment is increasingly likely for those in their 80s and older. And the severity of the impairment increases with age. These individuals are usually unaware their cognitive faculties are slipping and can become more vulnerable to financial exploitation.

    This year, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) addressed these concerns by implementing new rules designed to help protect the finances of vulnerable individuals. One provision requires broker dealers to make a reasonable effort to obtain the name of a trusted contact for their brokerage and other retail customer accounts.

    A trusted contact is an individual identified and selected by the account owner who can be contacted by the financial firm if something seems amiss. For example, if the firm is concerned that the account owner is no longer able to handle their financial affairs, if the account owner cannot be reached, or if there is a reason to suspect fraud or financial exploitation, the firm is authorized to reach out to the trusted contact for guidance. Additionally, the financial firm can temporarily withhold the disbursement of funds or securities while any matters are being investigated.

    The firm is authorized to share transaction information, specific securities, beneficiary designations, and the account owner’s contact information with this individual. So, it is important the account holder selects someone he or she fully trusts.

    At the same time, the trusted contact will not be able to act on the account. This is a protective measure – and it’s preferable that the individual selected to be the trusted contact is not already authorized to act on the account. Unfortunately, financial exploitation is often committed by those who may be closest to the account holder.

    Institutions that deal with clients on a regular basis may recognize changes in behavior or unusual account activity before family members or friends do. So, when you are tackling items on your annual to-do list, contact your financial institution to add a trusted contact to your brokerage and other investment accounts. Make sure your trusted contact knows about your directive as well.
    Designating such an individual to serve on your behalf provides another layer of account protection to keep you financially secure.

    Full Article & Source:
    Why You Should Protect Your Investments By Designating A Trusted Contact

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    Philip C. Marshall went to court to protect his wealthy socialite grandmother from being financially exploited by her own son. His crusade continues today.

    Philip C. Marshall, grandson of Brooke Astor and founder of Beyond Brooke. Courtesy Financial Advisor Magazine, Alec Marshall
    The 2009 trial of Anthony Marshall, son of New York philanthropist Brooke Astor, brought nationwide attention to the issue of elder abuse. Marshall was found guilty of stealing millions of dollars from his mother and, along with a lawyer, fraudulently changing her will. Astor’s grandson Philip C. Marshall filed a guardianship petition in 2006 seeking to protect his grandmother—and today, years after the deaths of his father and grandmother, he continues to campaign against the financial exploitation of seniors. In this edited conversation, Marshall speaks with Senior Editor Eleanor Laise about how seniors and their loved ones can recognize and combat abuse.

    Based on your experience, what are the key elder-abuse red flags that family members and friends should watch for?

    Isolation of seniors is one of the biggest red flags. If a senior is isolated, that sets the stage for potential perpetrators to come in. Old friends vanishing, new friends—in quotes—showing up. This is what happened with my grandmother. New lawyer, new accountant, new best friend. All should signal possible warning signs.

    In your case, combating the abuse meant testifying against your father. What’s your advice to people who suspect their close relatives are the perpetrators?

    My inbox and my voice mail are full of people who are desperately trying to figure out what to do. Yes, there’s a huge angst about addressing abuse with a family member you’ve had a lifetime relationship with. But the angst is really among people who say, ‘I’ve gone to law enforcement and Adult Protective Services, and they say this is a family affair or a civil matter.’

    Very typically elder abuse is criminal and needs to be treated as such. That’s one of the things that came out of my grandmother’s case: It wasn’t just a battle of the bluebloods—it was criminal.

    You have founded an organization, Beyond Brooke, which seeks to provide elder-abuse education and empower seniors. What do you tell seniors about how to protect themselves against financial abuse? 

    It’s back to engaging in relationships and making sure you’ve got people in your life who will watch your back. It sometimes takes just one person or three or five people in your life who are checking in—and cultivating those relationships.

    Seniors are often encouraged to designate a power of attorney to carry out their wishes if they become incapacitated. Yet this can also open the door to elder abuse. What’s your advice on designating a power of attorney? 

    I filed for guardianship because my father had power of attorney for his mother, which he was using as a weapon and a shield. I would say have two agents, for starters. It’s a check and balance system. And one could be a professional. If folks happen to have a trust or two, make sure there’s a professional fiduciary as a trustee, so you’ve got this check and balance.

    There’s so much power of attorney abuse. And as a reminder, power of attorney abuse is criminal. People are being told it’s a civil issue, and that’s not true.

    Your grandmother was abused while she was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. What should be done to protect people with dementia from elder abuse? 

    That’s where folks in the financial industry and in health care need to talk. When someone has mild cognitive impairment, they’re potentially still able to do financial [tasks] and have testamentary capacity. But there’s this huge grey zone between mild cognitive impairment and advanced Alzheimer’s. It’s really difficult to figure out when to act.

    There are three things we usually don’t like talking about: health, wealth and death. And perpetrators know this is to their advantage. So we have to throw these right on the table. Generally speaking, people are relieved when their families talk about these critical issues.

    Full Article & Source:
    Brooke Astor's Grandson Fights Against Elder Abuse

    See Also:
    From Whistle-Blower To Elder Champion

    Too Sick for Court?

    Brooke Astor heir Anthony Marshall leaves sons out of his will; millions will go to second wife and her children

    Brooke Astor's Lasting Legacy

    Settlement Reached in Brooke Astor Estate Battle

    Astor's Son Found Guilty

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    ITHACA, N.Y. — Most nursing homes had fewer nurses and caretaking staff than they had reported to the government for years, according to new federal data, bolstering the long-held suspicions of many families that staffing levels were often inadequate.

    The records for the first time reveal frequent and significant fluctuations in day-to-day staffing, with particularly large shortfalls on weekends. On the worst staffed days at an average facility, the new data show, on-duty personnel cared for nearly twice as many residents as they did when the staffing roster was fullest.

    The data, analyzed by Kaiser Health News, come from daily payroll records Medicare only recently began gathering and publishing from more than 14,000 nursing homes, as required by the Affordable Care Act of 2010. Medicare previously had been rating each facility’s staffing levels based on the homes’ own unverified reports, making it possible to game the system.

    The payroll records provide the strongest evidence that over the last decade, the government’s five-star rating system for nursing homes often exaggerated staffing levels and rarely identified the periods of thin staffing that were common. Medicare is now relying on the new data to evaluate staffing, but the revamped star ratings still mask the erratic levels of people working from day to day.

    At the Beechtree Center for Rehabilitation & Nursing here, Jay Vandemark, 47, who had a stroke last year, said he often roams the halls looking for an aide not already swamped with work when he needs help putting on his shirt.

    Especially on weekends, he said, “It’s almost like a ghost town.”

    Nearly 1.4 million people are cared for in skilled nursing facilities in the United States. When nursing homes are short of staff, nurses and aides scramble to deliver meals, ferry bedbound residents to the bathroom and answer calls for pain medication. Essential medical tasks such as repositioning a patient to avert bedsores can be overlooked when workers are overburdened, sometimes leading to avoidable hospitalizations.

    “Volatility means there are gaps in care,” said David Stevenson, an associate professor of health policy at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tenn. “It’s not like the day-to-day life of nursing home residents and their needs vary substantially on a weekend and a weekday. They need to get dressed, to bathe and to eat every single day.”

    David Gifford, a senior vice president at the American Health Care Association, a nursing home trade group, disagreed, saying there are legitimate reasons staffing varies. On weekends, for instance, there are fewer activities for residents and more family members around, he said.

    “While staffing is important, what really matters is what the overall outcomes are,” he said.

    While Medicare does not set a minimum resident-to-staff ratio, it does require the presence of a registered nurse for eight hours a day and a licensed nurse at all times.

    The payroll records show that even facilities that Medicare rated positively for staffing levels on its Nursing Home Compare website, including Beechtree, were short nurses and aides on some days. On its best staffed days, Beechtree had one aide for every eight residents, while on its lowest staffed days, there was only one aide for 18 residents. Nursing levels also varied.
    Jay Vandemark, who entered Beechtree after he suffered a stroke that immobilized his left side, complained that the center didn’t have enough workers on some shifts. “It’s almost like a ghost town,” he said.CreditHeather Ainsworth for The New York Times
    The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the federal agency that oversees nursing home inspections, said in a statement that it “is concerned and taking steps to address fluctuations in staffing levels” that have emerged from the new data. This month, it said it would lower ratings for nursing homes that had gone seven or more days without a registered nurse.

    Beechtree’s payroll records showed similar staffing levels to those it had reported before. David Camerota, chief operating officer of Upstate Services Group, the for-profit chain that owns Beechtree, said in a statement that the facility has enough nurses and aides to properly care for its 120 residents. But, he said, like other nursing homes, Beechtree is in “a constant battle” to recruit and retain employees even as it has increased pay to be more competitive.

    Mr. Camerota wrote that weekend staffing is a special challenge as employees are guaranteed every other weekend off. “This impacts our ability to have as many staff as we would really like to have,” he wrote.

    In April, the government started using daily payroll reports to calculate average staffing ratings, replacing the old method, which relied on homes to report staffing for the two weeks before an inspection. The homes sometimes anticipated when an inspection would happen and could staff up before it.  (Continue)

    Full Article & Source:
    'It’s Almost Like a Ghost Town.’ Most Nursing Homes Overstated Staffing for Years

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    As I held the phone to my ear, listening to the sounds of the ICU in my father’s hospital room as he lay dying, I thought, This is the hard part. This was the part that I’d prepared my heart for, the inevitable day that we all knew was coming after my father’s diagnosis of esophageal cancer nine months prior. Every chemotherapy setback, every hospital admission, every missed family gathering had led us here. We knew cancer was going to rob us of our father and my kids of their grandfather.

    He was dying, and his cancer-ridden body would finally be at rest.

    I was 1,600 miles away and helpless to do anything but whisper to my father through the phone I clutched in my hands as I sobbed.

    When the nurse got on the phone and said, “It’s over. He’s gone,” I breathed a sigh of relief.

    My father was at peace.

    The worst was over, I told myself.

    But my grief journey was just starting. And it’s been excruciating, painful, and wonderful, all in different stages.

    Though it’s been five years since the day I said goodbye to my father, I still grieve him every day. Not a day goes by that my heart doesn’t feel the pang of sorrow when I want to share a professional success with him or when I catch a glimpse of his smile on my son’s face.

    I am not over my grief, and I never will be.

    And I’m grateful.

    Grief is not an emotion that is fleeting like anger or sadness. Some say grief is a process, but I disagree. By calling grief a “process,” the implication is that there is an end. A final moment where you say, “Yup! I’m done now. I don’t miss my dad anymore.”

    But that is simply not the case.

    My grief is here to stay, and I’d appreciate it if you’d stop asking me to get over it.

    In fact, if I’m being honest, I like who I’ve become since I’ve had to process my grief over my father’s death. Grief has made me a better friend when my friends have lost their parents. Through my experience, I know that doing a friend’s laundry during a crisis means more than any lasagna you can shove in their fridge. And I know that funeral flowers just wind up dying and in the garbage, so I show up with wine instead.

    Grief has made me more empathetic to strangers. I don’t judge as quickly when a cashier is short with me or when someone cuts me off in traffic because I wonder if they are having a day like I did shortly after my father passed away. The day when I had an anxiety attack in the parking lot at the grocery store and had to abandon my cart because I was crying too hard to lift the bags.

    The man who screamed at me that day for not replacing my cart can rot in hell as far as I’m concerned. People who are carrying the burden of grief aren’t wearing T-shirts that say, “Be nice to me, my sister just died.” I’ve learned to practice kindness more often, thanks to grief.

    I know not to tilt my head at a PTA meeting and say “How are you doing?” to a friend who has just lost her mother. Because I know she is fucking falling apart, and and it’s all she can do not to break the school windows with the gavel in her hands. Rather, I say “Death fucking sucks” instead. Because it does, and I needed someone to say that to me in the early months. Grief has stripped away my social filter and has made me braver, bolder.

    On the day my father died, I became part of a club that I didn’t know existed. The “I’ve Lost a Parent” club members quietly and bravely carry their pain as they go about the business of raising kids, chasing job promotions, and managing a household.

    The members of this club wearily welcome new members by simply saying, “Me too,” and I’ve been welcomed with open arms. The friends who have shared their experiences and the ones who haven’t judged me for my anger as I’ve navigated my grief path are the people I try to emulate when I’m offering support.

    You will never hear me say “He’s better off” or “It was God’s plan” to a friend who tells me she is hurting from grief that threatens to swallow her whole. My grief has taught me that sitting in silence with a friend as she cries or the simple act of saying “I see your pain” is what will really make a difference.

    Simple gestures like showing up to take care of carpool when you know a friend is struggling or arranging to show up with a hot meal for her family says that you understand where she is in her grief. Grief has made me understand that actions really do speak louder than words.
    I didn’t ask for grief to enter my world, and watching my father die was absolute hell. But for all the sadness and pain, the days when my heart hurts so bad that I think it might actually be breaking, I wouldn’t trade my grief for anything.

    Grief has been a gift in my life because it causes me to feel deep, raw emotion. And those feelings remind me that cancer didn’t erase my father from my memories. Yes, death fucking sucks, but through the tapestry of memories and a whole lot of tears, my father feels closer to me than ever, thanks to the grieving process.

    So stop asking me to get over it. I don’t want to get over it.

    By: Christine Burke

    Full Article & Source:
    Losing a Parent Is Hell, So Stop Telling Me to 'Get Over' My Grief

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    ANCHORAGE (KTUU) — In a bill signing Thursday, Gov. Bill Walker created another way for a person to be helped by others besides restrictive, traditional guardianship.

    In signing House Bill 336, Rep. Charisse Millett’s popular final bill, Walker created new law allowing so-called “Supported Decision-Making Agreements.”

    The bill signing occurred at the Fourth Annual Disability & Aging Summit at the Special Olympics building on Mountain View Drive for a reason: Decision-Making Agreements are primarily for Alaska’s rapidly growing senior population and for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities.

    In an interview, Millett, an Anchorage Republican who lost her seat to a primary challenger in the August primary, said her bill was essentially nonpartisan and was a fitting way for her to leave the Legislature. The legislative votes and long co-sponsorship list demonstrate the measure’s popularity — it passed the House 39-1 on April 14 and the Senate 19-0 on May 11.

    Rep. David Eastman of Wasilla was the sole no vote. He said the bill offered too big a grant of immunity for decisions made on behalf of another. In a telephone interview, he said he was unable to amend the bill to his liking.

    The bill emerged from the previous year’s disability and aging summit, according to participants. Millett had warned it might take two years for the Legislature to move such a measure, but she praised her staff and others for shrinking the time to three months and getting the bill passed last session.

    The new law allows a disabled person or senior citizen to name a “supporter” or team of supporters — perhaps children, parents or friends — who would sign an agreement with the disabled person or senior naming the help that was needed.

    “It could be part of anyone’s natural support network,” said Anne Applegate, an attorney on the staff of the Governor’s Council on Disabilities & Special Education.

    The bill itself has several sample agreements among its 19 pages of text.

    A team could agree to do something like help a senior with computers, Wi-Fi or a smartphone, Applegate said, or an agreement could focus on health care or legal advice.

    In capital letters, one of the law’s sample agreements says: “A supporter appointed under this agreement does not make decisions for me.”

    “It’s innovative legislation that will end up saving the state money and will allow the freedom that seniors — and folks with intellectual and development disabilities — to gauge how much support they need,” Millett said in an interview.

    Full Article & Source:
    New law offers alternative to guardianship for seniors and those with developmental disabilities

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    BURTON (WJRT) (9/25/2018) - "We are always on the lookout. That is one of our number one missions. So, when anybody comes in and starts talking to us about an issue that's going on, it's really important that you listen and that you ask questions," explained Burton Senior Activities Center Director Jean Johnson.

    She said that approach is what brought to light two years of abuse endured by one of the seniors she works with.

    "She was brave enough to tell me that there was some issues going on," Johnson said.

    "You know, Jean Johnson is really I think, the heroine in this case," Genesee County Sheriff Robert Pickell said.

    He explained earlier this year, she alerted his Elder Abuse Task Force, who found 58-year-old Virginia Brown had stolen $50,780 from the woman.

    The Sheriff said the two met at church shortly after the woman's guardian passed away; and, Brown convinced the woman to sign her money over to her. Once she did, Brown immediately had the woman buy her a new home, which she moved the woman into.

    "What happened next was a tenant was paying the victim money on a land contract; and several months of those payments on the land contract were put into the defendants pocket, they never made it to the bank," Sheriff Pickell said.

    With that $7,600, plus another $5,000 that Brown wrote in checks from the woman's bank account, she took a trip to Florida.

    "The worst is yet to come," Sheriff Pickell added. "In January 2018, the defendant Virginia Brown, without the consent of the victim, withdrew $40,000 from the victim's annuity."

    That money was also spent on a trip to Florida.

    "These are my friends and to see that somebody would see a situation that someone could be taken advantage of and then do that, that just, it makes me very angry and disappointed in our society," Johnson said.

    Brown is facing up to 15 years behind bars.

    Johnson said the woman is doing much better now that the situation is under control.

    For more information on the Sheriff's Elder Abuse Task Force, click on the 'Related Links' section of this story.

    Full Article & Source:
    Alert Burton senior center director uncovers $50,000 embezzlement case

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    Lawrence Warfel
    Lawrence Warfel, 75, of Moberly was charged Thursday with financial exploitation of an elder/disabled person, a class C felony. Lawrence Warfel was withdrawing cash for nearly a year from his missing wife’s Social Security debit card, according to a probable cause statement made by Randolph County Sheriff’s Deputy Aaron Wilson.

    Wilson reported that he was contacted June 19 by Penny Warfel’s sister in Columbus, Ohio, to report her sister missing. Penny Warfel was last seen Sept. 15, 2017. At the time of Penny Warfel was entered as missing in the Missouri State Highway Patrol database, she had not been seen in 9 months, according to the report.

    Lawrence Warfel was the last person in her family to see her, according to the report. Lawrence Warfel told Wilson that Penny Warfel had left for Florida with a male friend after the married couple got into an argument. Lawrence Warfel said he had only spoken to Penny Warfel once since she left for Florida. It has not been confirmed that she left Missouri.

    Wilson reported that Penny Warfel had been receiving an SSI disability check from the federal government. According to the report, Wilson was put into contact with a special agent with the U.S Inspector General’s Office to assist with the investigation. The agent was named in the statement as Special Agent J.F.

    Penny Warfel was reportedly the only person with access to her SSI account. Wilson obainted records of Penny Warfel’s transaction history from July 2017 to July 2018. From July to September of 2017, Wilson reported that activity was consistent, including grocery expenses and bills paid through the account.

    At the end of September 2017, however, Wilson reported that ordinary transactions on the account had stopped and only ATM transactions had been made since. Further investigation of video surveillance showed that Lawrence Warfel was withdrawing money from the ATM at the Bank of Kirksville in Moberly and the ATM connected to Academy Bank at the Moberly Walmart using Penny Warfel’s SSI account.

    The records show that Penny Warfel has been receiving $750 each month from SSI, and all of the money was being withdrawn from her account each month by Lawrence Warfel. The total sum, as of the time of the probable cause statement, was approximately $8,000.

    Wilson brought in Lawrence Warfel for questioning Wednesday. He reported that Lawrence Warfel admitted to being in possession of Penny Warfel’s SSI debit card and withdrew funds each month.

    Special Agent J.F. was present for Wilson’s interview with Lawrence Warfel. He reportedly told Warfel that he was not allowed to withdraw money from his wife’s account and use it for himself. Lawrence Warfel told the investigators that his wife had told him to keep her money to pay her medical bills of at the Moberly Regional Medical Center, according to the report. Wilson told Lawrence Warfel that he had already checked with MRMC and no payments had been made on Penny Warfel’s account in more than a year.

    Charges were filed against Lawrence Warfel on Thursday by Randolph County Prosecuting Attorney Mike Fusselman. His bond was set at $25,000, cash only and his arraignment is scheduled Monday at 1:30 p.m.

    Full Article & Source:

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    COLUMBUS – Starting on Sept. 29, Ohio law greatly expands the number of individuals required to report suspicions of elder abuse, neglect or exploitation.

    Mandatory reporters now include many more individuals in the financial services, legal and medical professions – for example, pharmacists, dialysis technicians, firefighters, first responders, building inspectors, CPAs, real estate agents, bank employees, financial planners and notary publics.

    "This expansion of mandatory reporters will help us in our goal of protecting our vulnerable family members, friends and neighbors from harm," said Cynthia Dungey, director of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS), which supervises Ohio’s Adult Protective Services (APS) program. "Older adults make up the fastest-growing segment of Ohio’s population so all of us need to be vigilant. If you suspect that elder abuse, neglect or exploitation might be occurring, please report it."

    "We work with state and local partners to ensure that our elders are able to live independently, and with dignity and respect, in their homes and communities for as long as possible," added Beverley Laubert, director of the Ohio Department of Aging. "Each of us must feel empowered to speak up when we suspect that a neighbor, friend or loved one might be the subject of abuse, neglect or exploitation. Likewise, we deserve to know that people who serve our elders daily will take action when they spot warning signs."

    The law changes also require ODJFS to develop and make available educational materials for mandatory reporters. As a result, the agency developed guidebooks for financial services professionals, legal and law enforcement professionals, medical professionals and the public.

    Anyone in Ohio can report possible elder abuse 24/7 by calling 1-855-OHIO-APS or by contacting the nearest county department of job and family services (JFS). To find the nearest county JFS, visit Physical proof or other evidence is not required. Reports can be made anonymously.

    If mandatory reporters fail to report possible abuse, they could face criminal charges and fines of up to $500. Ohio law allows no exceptions for professional relationships – for example, doctor/patient relationships or attorney/client relationships.

    Elder abuse can include physical, sexual or psychological abuse, as well as neglect, abandonment or financial exploitation. In addition to physical injuries, the following are just a few of the possible indicators: being isolated, missing appointments, appearing frightened or avoiding specific people, suddenly withdrawing from usual activities or interactions, changes in mood or temperament, changes in personal hygiene, or being resistant to touching.

    For more information, see the publication "A Guide to Protecting Ohio’s Elders" (JFS 08025), which is available at Industry-specific guides for financial services professionals, legal and law enforcement professionals, and medical professionals will be available soon.

    Full Article & Source:

    More Ohioans now legally required to report suspected elder abuse

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    It is a miracle. I can’t believe, after over a year of trying to remove my mother’s crooked conservator, I was able to get him temporarily removed after multiple hearings at Superior Court in Downtown LA.

    It all started with an investigation by the probate conservatorship office that lead to a recommendation that he be removed. When I showed up to court the apposing side said they “hadn’t seen the report” (lie) so, the hearing was extended for another three months. Meanwhile, I asked the judge to appoint a PVP attorney to conduct an investigation for my mothers health was seriously deteriorating. After a few interviews with my mom, thankfully she reported that my mother also needed a new conservator.

    Rule number one: Document document document. Document everything.

    So, last week I stood before the judge and everyone was discussing financial abuse, and I stood there thinking what about the psychological abuse? What about her isolation, her apparent depression, and mental decompensating. No one seemed to address this issue so, when it came my time to talk I flat out told the judge the real crime, despite financial elderly abuse, is the mental abuse. I made an argument that it wasn’t about money, and I had the documentation from the probate investigators office, coupled with the PVP report, to prove my point.

    Rule number two: Shift the narrative to cover all aspects of conservatorship abuse, not just financial.

    After my speech, the court room was silent. People looked at me like I was the crazy but, not the judge. He heard me, he listened to me, and he granted the temporarily removal. Sadly, the conservator still has control over my mother’s trust, which is a huge problem given the fact he’s blown through a massive about of my mothers money since his appointment but, hopefully at the next hearing the judge will be able to permanently remove him from all aspects of my family.

    Rule number three: Don’t give up.

    I share this story with you cause I have come across numerous people in probate that have difficulty removing conservators from what appears to be a serious crippled legal system but, there is hope. If you stay in the game, document a narrative that shows incompetence and point out the mental component when addressing abuse you have a chance. You should never give up, despite the constant continuances and BS that goes on with lawyers.

    Rule number four: Always keep in mind that God is good.

    Throughout all this, I have become closer to God. I have leaned on him, prayed to him, and have believed in him. So come November, I go back to court to see if his removal can be permanent and, after a year of hard work, persistency, and prays to the Lord above, I see the light at the end of what has been a wrenched tunnel. And, if you ever find yourself in this mess, take my rules, and so can you.

    Full Article & Source:
    4 Tips on How to Remove a Crooked Conservator

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    Michael McDuffie\ Muscogee County Sheriff's Office
    A Columbus man pleaded not guilty to entering his mother’s apartment and knocking her to the floor during a dispute, an officer testified Friday in Recorder’s Court .

    Michael McDuffie, 43, of Columbus faces one count of exploitation and intimidation of disabled adults, elderly persons, battery family violence, criminal trespassing and theft by taking. Judge Julius Hunter ordered McDuffie held in the Muscogee County Jail on bonds totaling $12,500 and bound the charges over to Superior Court. If McDuffie is able to make bond, Hunter said he must stay away from his mother and have no contact with her.

    Officer Jerry Yarbrough said he was called to the 676 Sixth Ave. apartment of the 66-year-old mother about an 11:45 a.m. attack on Aug. 22. She was injured on her legs and arms. The son had moved out of the apartment because mother had constant problems with him.

    The mother told the officer that her son entered the apartment after she left her side door open to let some air inside. She was knocked to the floor, causing her to strike her head on a TV stand. The victim also said she was struck with a floor fan.

    The son is accused of going into her room and taking her keys. She was trying to make a call on her cell phone before it was snatched from her hand and thrown across the room, damaging the screen on the phone.

    Yarbrough said McDuffie was taken into custody Wednesday by officers on Cusseta Road near 25th Avenue.

    McDuffie was represented by public defender Robin King but he didn’t testify. Seeking a bond, King noted the suspect’s mother wasn’t treated by emergency medical services personnel at the scene.

    Full Article & Source:
    Son must stay away from mother after he’s charged with battery, exploiting elderly

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    Former lawyer Thomas Gage pleaded guilty to financially exploiting an elderly woman Monday in Rockingham County Superior Court. (JASON SCHREIBER)
    BRENTWOOD— A former Exeter lawyer pleaded guilty Monday to charges he financially exploited an elderly woman.

    Thomas U. Gage, 58, of Newfields, faces the possibility of at least two years in prison as part of a plea deal with state prosecutors that was outlined during a hearing in Rockingham County Superior Court.

    Gage pleaded guilty to two counts of financial exploitation of an elderly woman after taking out five credit cards in her name and charging more than $80,000 between January 2015 and January 2016.

    Gage, who formally practiced in Exeter, was disbarred for unrelated reasons in 2016.

    Assistant Attorney General Brandon Garod said he plans to seek a two- to four-year prison sentence and restitution for the victim, who was a family friend of Gage’s as well as a former client.

    Garod said Gage approached the 71-year-old woman and told her he was trying to refurbish a house his parents had left to him into an apartment building.

    Garod said Gage claimed that his credit was too poor to obtain financing and told the woman that if he could set up a limited liability company and use her personal information to obtain loans there would be no risk to her because the LLC would inherit the debt and it wouldn’t reflect on her credit report.

    Garod said Gage also claimed that if his plan was successful the victim could share in some of the profits.

    “He basically pitched it as a win-win with no risk. Come to find out, ultimately, he obtained five different credit cards in her name and did not establish an LLC like he told her he would do. He used all of the money to pay himself to his two businesses, Gage Law Offices and Quality Title Company, which is an offshoot of his law firm,” said Garod, who works in the Consumer Protection and Anti-Trust Bureau’s Elder Abuse and Exploitation Unit.

    Gage maxed out the credit cards and left the victim with the debt, Garod said.

    Garod said the victim agreed to let him use her personal credit information, but was under the impression that it wasn’t her debt and that he was using the money to renovate the home, which he actually did not own.

    Garod said some of the credit card companies have been willing to work with the victim to rectify the situation while others have told her that she’s on the hook because she knew about the money he was accessing.

    “I think this particular victim was extremely vulnerable due to the relationship with Mr. Gage. She trusted him completely because he was her former attorney and a close friend of the family. She had no reason to question any of the representations he made to her, especially the legal representations made to her,” he said.

    Gage will be sentenced on Nov. 15.

    Full Article & Source:
    Former lawyer pleads guilty to bilking elderly woman out of $80k

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    John Barnhardt Cox and Jack David Uselton
    Assets of a Middle Georgia timber company were seized Tuesday and its owner was arrested after agents with the Georgia Forestry Commission began a criminal investigation into an alleged scheme that victimized at least 28 landowners, most of them elderly.

    Cox Land & Timber Inc., based in Pike County, is accused of a number of “schemes,” including “intentionally misrepresenting the value of the timber harvested and harvested more timber than represented to the victims,” according to a civil lawsuit filed Tuesday in Bibb County Superior Court.
    John Barnhart Cox, owner of the company, was charged with felony theft and 49-year-old Jack David Uselton Jr., of McDonough, was charged with misrepresenting the origin or ownership of timber greater than $500. Both men were booked in the Bibb County jail Tuesday and released Wednesday on a $17,000 bond and a $4,050 bond respectively.

    Racketeering, exploitation of elderly people and timber mill theft are among the allegations in the lawsuit, which named four other defendants, including Jonathon Ashley May, of Griffin, James Lafayette Weldon, of Evans, Brenda Owings Jones, of Zebulon, and Kelly Zimmerman, of Kennesaw.

    The 28 victims are from 16 different counties including Bibb, Baldwin, Dodge, Fayette, Green, Hancock, Henry, Jasper, Lamar, Meriwether, Monroe, Newton, Pike, Spaulding, Talbot and Taliaferro, Macon Judicial Circuit District Attorney David Cooke said at a news conference Wednesday.

    At least 17 victims are over the age of 65.

    “Our hope is a majority of the victims in this case can receive restitution and recoup the losses they suffered,” Cooke said. “At least one victim has already died. … Another victim is 95.”

    The timber company is accused of quoting an elderly man $15,000-$30,000 for the harvest of his timber then paying him only $6,686, according to the lawsuit. It also is accused of harvesting about 655 tons more timber than it declared to another victim on a settlement sheet.

    In another accusation, the company allegedly lied to a victim and telling him or her that the property had “extensive beetle damage, which prevented harvesting the amount of timber as quoted,” according to the lawsuit.

    In addition to landowners, the company is accused of duping a number of timber mills including Graphic Packaging International in Macon.

    The lawsuit alleges Cox’s company “misrepresented the ownership or origin of the timber to the mill owners” to get paid more.

    All the businesses’ assets and properties are under the control of receiver John F. Kennedy while the case is pending.

    Cooke said Kennedy and a judge will decide if the business will continue to operate.

    Reached by phone Wednesday, Cox told The Telegraph, “I just don’t understand it.”

    Brian Jarrard, the Macon lawyer representing Cox, said he thinks it is improper for the district attorney’s office “to seize a business’s assets before any testing of their allegations in front of a jury. ... We intent to vigorously defend Mr. Cox and his business.”

    Read more here: more here:

    Full Article & Source:
    Georgia’s elderly landowners among those defrauded in alleged timber scheme, Macon DA says
    Georgia’s elderly landowners among those defrauded in alleged timber scheme, Macon DA says

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