Archive for the ‘Wisconsin’ Category

Bill would allow “concerned parties” to petition to detain individuals with mental illness

October 28, 2013

Family members and concerned parties could get the right to petition county officials to detain individuals with mental illnesses in an emergency if a new bill is approved by the Legislature.

The bill, which received a public hearing Tuesday along with 11 other bills, would not only allow law enforcement officers to take mentally ill individuals into custody but would also allow any “interested parties” to petition for emergency detentions.

The bill would empower families to help individuals who are in imminent danger and gives such parties the opportunity to challenge the county’s decision, bill sponsor Rep. John Jagler, R-Watertown, said. 

Assembly Committee on Health member Rep. Chris Taylor, D-Madison, said she is concerned the bill’s language of “interested parties” is too broad because it could essentially allow any person to file a petition.

Jagler said he intends to clarify the language used, but intends for the interested parties to include family members and attending physicians.

Counties are also required to respond to the party’s request within 24 hours and provide a written response if their request is turned down under the bill. Parties would then be able to petition the court if their request is turned down and a judge could decide whether a temporary hold of the individual is necessary.

Sarah Diedrick-Kasdorf, senior legislative associate for the Wisconsin Counties Association, said it is possible counties would turn down requests because county employees are already working with the individuals but cannot reveal such records because of doctor-patient confidentiality.

Diedrick-Kasdorf said the bill could also likely lead to an increase in emergency detentions because families would have no other option if their request was denied.

Counties would also be required to pay court and attorney fees if their response to a family’s request is reversed by a judge, which would dramatically increase costs for counties, Todd Liebman, corporation counsel for Sauk County, said.

Taylor said she is concerned about the costs for the county, as Dane County already struggles with funding for mental healthcare.

“When I first read this, I thought, ‘This is going to cost a fortune for the counties,’” Taylor said.

Jagler said the payment of fees is a financial safeguard, since the “loser” of the petition, whether it be the family or the county, pays the court costs.

Rep. Pat Strachota, R-West Bend, said there is also a possibility of frivolous suits, such as a husband or wife in a contentious divorce trying to detain their significant other.

“When you’re talking about personal situations where someone is lying out of spite, that would be a felony,” Jagler said of Strachota’s example. “To give false testimony to try to get somebody committed is a felony. If a person tries to go down this avenue to get somebody detained, the court costs would go to the petitioner, but if a judge agrees with the petitioner, the county would pay the court costs.”

Full Article and Source:
Bill would allow “concerned parties” to petition to detain individuals with mental illness

Medical examiner rules suicide in death of guardian accused of stealing from clients

August 29, 2013

APPLETON — A former Appleton guardian accused of stealing about $500,000 from his elderly and disabled clients committed suicide Wednesday morning, according to Calumet County authorities.

Medical Examiner Mike Klaeser declared Jeffrey Schend, 46, dead from hanging at the home, 501 Mitchell Ave., which is listed as Schend’s address on court records. Appleton police Sgt. Dave Lund said officers were called to Schend’s home about 4:30 a.m.

Schend was charged in Outagamie County with 15 felony theft counts and 12 misdemeanor counts of falsifying accounting records. His was scheduled to appear in court for a status conference at 11 a.m. Nov. 12.

Guardians are appointed by courts to oversee assets when it is determined that individuals are unable to manage their finances. The investigation of Schend began after Outagamie County officials received complaints in late 2010 that bills weren’t being paid.

Following a series of exclusive Post-Crescent Media reports, prosecutors hired a forensic accountant to comb through Schend’s finances. The accountant found his expenses significantly exceeded his income with spending that included vacations, yacht club costs and limousine rentals, according to the criminal complaint.

Full Article and Source:
Medical examiner rules suicide in death of guardian accused of stealing from clients

See Also:
Trial for ex-guardian Schend delayed for fourth time

More on Jeffrey Schend

Jeffrey Schend Revoked From Guardianship Practice

WI: Jeffrey Schend Theft Case Prompts Tougher Guardian Rules

Attorney who admitted theft still has law license

August 27, 2013

Since November, attorney Randy Wynn has been telling pretty much everybody he was a thief.

He has fessed up to the Milwaukee County district attorney’s office, the state Office of Lawyer Regulation, a U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge and the Journal Sentinel, which in January reported that Wynn acknowledged pocketing client funds. In an interview last week, the 60-year-old lawyer said the amount he took in the past few years is “estimated to be under $1 million, over $500,000 but spread over hundreds of clients.”

“I’m expecting to be charged, and I’ll probably be in prison,” Wynn testified last month in a bankruptcy hearing for one of his former clients. “What I did was wrong. I deserve whatever punishment I get.”

A partial accounting that Wynn gave to regulators in May “showed that Wynn had taken $784,734 from numerous clients,” Keith Sellen, director of the Office of Lawyer Regulation, wrote in a report filed with the state Supreme Court last month. “Wynn estimated his … partial accounting was ’90% complete.’”

Still, Wynn remains a licensed lawyer — he participated in a courtroom conference call just a month ago — and is in the center of a testy bankruptcy fight in which his testimony has gotten a former client in hot water. During the bankruptcy hearing, Jonathan Goodman, the bankruptcy attorney for Wynn’s former client, referred to Wynn as a “lying snake” and a “lying weasel.”

Wynn’s case provides insight into the glacial speed of Wisconsin’s secretive attorney regulatory process, a system in which the time between the receipt of a complaint about a lawyer and court action on that complaint can take years.

Wynn is not the only attorney who has kept his law license after admitting to committing felonies involving clients. Grafton lawyer Richard Kranitz remains a member of the state bar, even though three months ago he agreed in federal court to plead guilty to conspiracy to commit securities fraud. Kranitz was arrested in December 2011; this month he was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison.

Like Wynn, Kranitz is listed as being in good standing on the state bar’s lawyer search website as well as the one operated by the Office of Lawyer Regulation, the policing arm of the state Supreme Court.

On June 19 — about seven months after Wynn says he first told regulators and prosecutors of his thievery — the Office of Lawyer Regulation filed Wynn’s petition for voluntary revocation of his law license.

The petition is pending before the state Supreme Court.

William Weigel, the OLR’s litigation counsel, defended the pace of the agency’s investigations.
“The lawyer regulation process is rules-based, accurate and thorough,” Weigel wrote in an email. “… If OLR is perceived sometimes as not publicly jumping on a case from the get-go, well, we place a premium on getting it done right rather than rushing to get it done quickly.”

Full Article and Source:
Attorney who admitted theft still has law license

Trial for ex-guardian Schend delayed for fourth time

July 2, 2013

APPLETON — The case against a former guardian who police say bilked hundreds of thousands of dollars from the disabled and elderly is now two years old — and in limbo.

Jeffrey M. Schend, 46, was scheduled to stand trial in August in Outagamie County court on 27 charges, including 15 felony theft counts. On Friday, Judge Gregory Gill took the trial off the calendar as attorneys continue to work through records of Schend’s financial dealings.

It was the fourth time Schend’s trial was postponed.

The defense is waiting to obtain Schend’s personal spreadsheets and compare them to the findings of a forensic accountant. Both sides said it’ll be a daunting task.

“You’re talking about thousands of transactions,” District Attorney Carrie Schneider said.
Ironically, Schend demanded a speedy trial in the earliest stages of the case.

His trial was first scheduled for September 2011, but a judge granted prosecutors a postponement to allow for accounting work. Trial dates were then scheduled in January, March and August of last year, but were delayed. The case also was set back when Schend changed attorneys.

His current attorney, Theresa Schmieder, said Friday that setting a new trial date is difficult because she doesn’t have all the evidence she needs to prepare. “From that point, I could be ready in 90 to 120 days,” she said.

Gill said he will hold a conference with attorneys in August to discuss the case.

Authorities say Schend took nearly $500,000 from his clients.

Guardians are appointed by courts to oversee assets when it is determined that individuals are unable to manage their finances. The investigation of Schend began after Outagamie County officials received complaints in late 2010 that bills weren’t being paid.

An accountant used banking records to piece together all of the money that came in and left Schend’s accounts through 2010.

Schend’s former business, JMS Guardianship Services, could have collected $51,000 in fees from his clients in 2010. His personal spending alone reached nearly $165,000 that year, records show. In addition to personal expenses in 2010, the accountant determined that Schend spent $84,000 on business-related expenses, or more than $33,000 in excess of his total possible business income.

Full Article and Source:
Trial for ex-guardian Schend delayed for fourth time

See Also:
More on Jeffrey Schend

Jeffrey Schend Revoked From Guardianship Practice

Trial set for Aug. 19 for former guardian

February 12, 2013

APPLETON — A former Appleton guardian accused of stealing about $500,000 from his elderly and disabled clients is expected to go to trial in August.

Jeffrey M. Schend, 46, appeared in Outagamie County Court on Thursday for a status conference. He’s charged with 15 felony theft counts and 12 misdemeanor counts of falsifying accounting records.

Theresa Schmieder, Schend’s recently appointed attorney, said it’ll take significant time to review evidence and develop a strategy for trial. She said she doesn’t foresee a plea agreement.

Full Article & Source:
Trial set for Aug. 19 for former guardian

Lawyer Without Prior Discipline History Suspended Six Months

February 2, 2013

A Hubertus lawyer with no prior professional discipline record has been suspended from practice for six months for lack of action in civil cases for seven clients and for not keeping them informed.
Everett E. Wood was also ordered to pay nearly $20,000 for the costs of the proceedings against him, according to the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s ruling.  

The Office of Lawyer Regulation issued a complaint alleging 28 counts of professional misconduct against Wood (Wisconsin, ’92) in July 2011. The counts involved inaction and lack of client communication in civil cases involving seven clients, and one count of practicing law during a time his license was suspended for failing to meet continuing education requirements.

The court quoted the referee’s finding:

These are matters where Mr. Wood simply failed to act diligently on client matters and then when confronted by his clients, failed to communicate. To compound the issue, when several of Mr. Wood’s clients finally lost patience and brought the issue to the OLR for investigation, Mr. Wood often failed to cooperate with the OLR. Further, the misconduct doesn’t involve just one case that slipped through the cracks——this misconduct spans a period of time and a series of cases. This is a pattern of misconduct that has caused Mr. Wood’s clients unnecessary anxiety, stress and money.

Source:
Lawyer Withour Prior Discipline History Suspended Six Months

See Also:
Supreme Court of Wisconsin Ruling

Prominent Milwaukee lawyer loses license for misuse of funds

December 21, 2012

After practicing law for more than a half century and being president of one Milwaukee’s better known law firms, Joseph W. Weigel will be leaving the profession next year as a disbarred lawyer.

The state Supreme Court Wednesday unanimously agreed to revoke Weigel’s law license for misusing client funds by using the money to pay vendors or other clients. Special prosecutor Paul Schwarzenbart has argued that Weigel ran the firm’s client trust account like a Ponzi scheme. That is, Weigel, 77, ran hundreds of millions of dollars through the fund and used money won in new cases to pay off clients in older cases. Others, such as consultants and experts who assisted in cases, went unpaid.

“A six or seven figure deficit in an account that holds client funds is an ethical failure of epic proportions,” the court said in its 37-page decision.

Schwarzenbart has handled the case since 2006 because Weigel’s son, William Weigel, is a top official at the court’s Office of Lawyer Regulation and he often is involved in prosecutions of lawyers who violate ethical rules. Schwarzenbart made all decisions in the Joseph Weigel case and did not consult William Weigel or other agency officials, said Keith Sellen, agency director.

Full Article and Source:
Prominent Milwaukee lawyer loses license for misuse of funds

Taxpayer-Funded Lawyer to be Appointed for Jeffrey Schend in Theft Case

November 9, 2012

Attorneys say a former Appleton guardian accused of stealing about $500,000 from his elderly and disabled clients now qualifies for a taxpayer-funded lawyer because he is lacking in assets and earnings.

An attorney for the state Public Defender’s office said Jeffrey M. Schend, 45, met the agency’s guidelines and was approved to receive public representation.

Schend is charged in Outagamie County with 15 felony theft counts and 12 misdemeanor counts of falsifying accounting records.

Jon Padgham, attorney manager for the Public Defender’s Appleton office, said the 18-month-old case will be scheduled for trial once a lawyer is appointed.

Dist. Atty. Carrie Schneider said efforts would be made to have Schend’s current attorney, Michael Petersen, appointed through the public defender office in effort to keep the case moving.

To qualify for public representation, a defendant must meet predetermined financial guidelines. The process takes into account an applicant’s income and assets, spousal income, family size and the type of case.

Guardians are appointed by courts to oversee assets when it is determined that individuals are unable to manage their finances. The investigation of Schend began after Outagamie County officials received complaints in late 2010 that bills weren’t being paid.

Full Article and Source:
Ex-Guardian to be Represented by Public Defender
See Also:
Accused Former Guardian Jeffrey Schend Tries to Replace Judge

Accused Former Guardian Jeffrey Schend Tries to Replace Judge

July 11, 2012

A former Appleton guardian accused of stealing from his elderly and disabled clients has asked a judge to step down from the felony case.

Jeffrey M. Schend, 45, appeared Monday in Outagamie County Court to request that a judge from a different county be assigned to the case, based in part on Judge Gregory Gill’s role as supervisor for the county probate office. The register in probate is responsible for the oversight of guardians serving county clients.

Gill didn’t make a decision on Monday. Dist. Atty. Carrie Schneider is expected to provide Gill with written arguments later this week.

Gill also set a July 24 deadline for prosecutors to file any additional charges against Schend. Schneider said that would entail a “significant amendment” to charging documents if she expands the case.

Schend is charged with six felony theft counts and one misdemeanor count of theft. He’s accused of stealing about $500,000 from his clients.

Full Article and Source:
Former Appleton Guardian Jeffrey Schend Seeks New Judge in Theft Case

See Also:
Bonds in Jeffrey M. Shend’s Appleton Guardian Case Won’t Cover Losses

Jeffrey Schend’s attorney asks for dismissal because of delays in prosecution

June 29, 2012

APPLETON — A former Appleton guardian accused of stealing about $500,000 from his elderly and disabled clients wants a judge to toss the felony case because of unreasonable delays in his prosecution.

The attorney for Jeffrey M. Schend filed a motion for dismissal in Outagamie County Court on Wednesday.

Schend was charged in May 2011 and demanded a speedy trial in July. His trial was first scheduled for September, but a judge granted prosecutors a postponement so a forensic accountant could investigate Schend’s financial practices.

Michael Petersen, attorney for Schend, said he met with the forensic accountant in March, but hasn’t received a report on the findings. During a court hearing in March, attorneys said the accountant’s review was complete.

“Clearly, it is not the role of the judiciary to baby-sit cases while they are investigated by the state,” wrote Petersen, who also is asking for a ruling that would prohibit prosecutors from refiling charges in the future. “The defendant deserves his day in court.”

Full Article and Source:
Jeffrey Schend’s attorney asks for dismissal because of delays in prosecution

See Also:
Bonds in Jeffrey M. Schend’s Appleton guardian case won’t cover losses


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