Archive for September, 2009

Felons Working in Florida Nursing Homes

September 30, 2009

Florida seniors and disabled adults too frail to live on their own have been beaten, neglected and robbed by caregivers with criminal records.

A cancer patient at a Pompano Beach assisted living facility watched helplessly from bed as a nurse’s aide with a record for theft rifled through her handbag and stole $165.

“What are you doing with my bag?” a police report quoted her as saying. “You have no right. Put it down.”

A video camera caught an aide at a North Miami Beach group home for the disabled shoving a cerebral palsy patient face-first to the floor, busting her lip. The aide had previously pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and never should have been working there.

More than 3,500 people with criminal records — including rape, robbery and murder — have been allowed to work with the elderly, disabled and infirm through exemptions granted by the state the past two decades, a Sun Sentinel investigation found. Hundreds more slipped through because employers failed to check their backgrounds or kept them on the job despite their criminal past.

Screening gaps
Florida has a patchwork of controls for checking caregivers of the elderly that seems to put more emphasis on protecting against embezzlement than safeguarding patients.

Full Article and Source:
Convicted Felongs Could Be Working in Your Mother’s or Father’s Nursing Home

Federal Program Misses Problem Nursing Homes

September 30, 2009

A government program that brings extra scrutiny to poorly performing nursing homes leaves out hundreds of troubled facilities, investigators report.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services identifies up to 136 nursing homes as “special focus facilities” subject to more frequent inspections because of their living conditions. In every state except for Alaska, there are between one and six such facilities. But investigators said four times as many homes, or 580, could be considered among the nation’s worst.

The report from the Government Accountability Office does not identify the homes.

The chairman of the Senate Aging Committee said it indicated to him that the special focus is too limited. At the least, Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wis., wants more explicit warnings about nursing homes as people study quality ratings on a Medicare Web site, Nursing Home Compare —

“If far more than 136 nursing homes boast the bleakest conditions, then perhaps we should consider expanding” the program, said Kohl, who requested the study with Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa.

The GAO said it made just that recommendation two years ago. Federal officials agreed with the concept, but said they didn’t have the resources to do so.

The report also suggests adjusting the methods used to identify the worst performing nursing homes. The home now under special attention are the worst performing in their state. But not all states are created equal when it comes to nursing home quality. Comparing the homes nationally would ensure that scarce resources go to inspecting the nursing homes that truly need the most attention, according to the report.

Full Article and Source:
Federal Program Misses Problem Nursing Homes

Read the GAO report- Nursing Homes: CMS’s Special Focus Facility Methodology Should Better Target the Most Poorly Performing Homes, Which Tended to Be Chain Affiliated and For-Profit

Former Attorney to be Released

September 30, 2009

Former Flint attorney Shannon Pitcher is about to be released from state prison, two years after she admitted to embezzling money from the vulnerable clients she was supposed to protect.

A spokesman for the Michigan Department of Corrections confirmed Pitcher has been granted conditional parole effective Oct. 20, closing a chapter in one of the most sensational white collar criminal cases in recent Genesee County history.

Pitcher’s release comes even as the county court system continues to grapple with which of more than two dozen alleged victims are still owed money investigators seized from Pitcher after her 2006 arrest.

Pitcher will have served slightly more than her minimum 23-month sentence but far less than her maximum 10 years when she is freed.

Full Article and Source:
Former Attorney Shannon Pitcher Set to be Released from Prison Next Month

See also:
Swindled and No Real Oversight

Tug of War Over Wang Estate

September 30, 2009

Lawyers are preparing for battle in Essex County, N.J., over whether the $10 billion estate of Taiwanese industrialist Wang Yung-Ching, who died intestate last year in his Short Hills home, should be administered in New Jersey, in whole or in part, and which law should apply.

The case involves not only extensive financial and commercial holdings but also an extended-family relationship that includes a widow, two putative secondary wives — who under Taiwanese law would share in the estate — and nine children, all of whom have lawyered up.

Full Article and Source:
Lawyers Wrangle Over NJ Venue for Taiwan Magnates Estate

See also:
NJ Judge Seeks More Info on Billionaire’s Fortune

N.J. Judge Retains Case Over Estate of Formosa’s Wang

More information:
Tycoon’s Children Battle to Control Late Father’s Cash

Estate Hearing

Marked for Destruction

September 29, 2009

A crime perpetrated by her Professional LegalGuardian, arranged by an Attorney.

Locked away in an Assisted Living Facility against her will.

Her Diary of Elder Financial Abuse and Fraud.

Learn how Adele’s neighbors rescued her.

What Adele Fraulen might have thought to be nothing more than a meaningless bad dream one night in 1935 would actually come true. At age 79 she would find herself living a nightmare — a struggle for her life, simply because she innocently trusted the wrong professionals to help with her portion of a Million Dollar inheritance; they would steal her very existence. Her neighbors, Chris and Patricia Zurillo, would realize that Adele’s life was going terribly wrong and dedicate themselves to freeing her from captivity. “Marked For Destruction” is a rare book that exposes an ever-expanding crime against our elderly.

A gift from Adele’s neighbors: Download a FREE Copy of Marked for Destruction

About The Author:
John Caravella patrolled the streets of the City Of Wauwatosa (Milwaukee County, Wisconsin) from 1976 to 1989. Citizen trust resulted in his clearing arsons, armed robberies, missing fugitives, dozens of burglaries and two homicides. After retiring, he volunteered his investigative skills to help others. “That is how Adele came into my life,” Caravella said. “I learned that she was ‘imprisoned’ and had to be freed. Through this book, Adele’s voice exposes the deceptive schemes used to keep her quiet.”

Marked for Destruction

Convicted Felons as Caregivers

September 29, 2009

Disturbing flaws in Florida’s background screening system have put children, seniors and the disabled in the care of convicted felons with records that include rape, child molestation and murder, an investigation by the Sun Sentinel newspaper has found.

Employees of day care centers, assisted living facilities and group homes are required to undergo a background check under state law but can begin work before their screening is complete, the paper is reporting this week.

At least 2,400 day care workers were already on the job before their records turned up, including a Tampa man with this note in his screening record: “EVIL DUDE-RAPE+KIDNAP+SEX ASLT,” a statewide database of screenings since 1985 shows.

Even when criminal offenses are discovered, people can still work with little more than a promise not to break the law again.

Through an exemption system created by lawmakers two decades ago, Florida has cleared more than 8,700 people with criminal records to be caregivers. They include 45 murderers, 12 registered sex offenders and 200 people with histories of harming children.

Exemptions are only supposed to be granted with proof of rehabilitation. But about 1,800 of the people approved — or one in five — went on to be arrested again, some within days of the state’s determination that they could be trusted to care for vulnerable residents.

“It’s totally unacceptable. Obviously, this has become a huge loophole that needs to be closed,” said Nan Rich, D-Weston, vice chairwoman of the Florida Senate’s Children, Families and Elder Affairs committee.

A sex abuse scandal at a Miami day care in the mid 1980s prompted the first of several state laws requiring background checks for caregivers and allowing for exemptions.

Florida now has a patchwork system with glaring inconsistencies.

Full Article and Source:
Report: Faulty System Lets Felons Be Caregivers

Home and Community Based Care Added to Healthcare Reform Bill

September 29, 2009

The Senate Finance last week adopted several amendments in its healthcare reform bill that apply to long-term care.

An amendment introduced by Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) would insert language that expresses Congress’ interest to address long-term care services and supports in a comprehensive way. Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) offered one that links increases in the federal medical assistance percentage (FMAP) with states’ use of Medicaid funds for home- and community-based services.

Yet another would place the Elder Justice Act inside the massive legislation. The act would help prevent and detect elder abuse, and prosecute those who commit it.

Full Article and Source:
Legislative Amendments Emphasize Home and Community Based Care – Elder Justice Act

Maine Elder Watchdogs

September 29, 2009

Prosecutors patted themselves on the back for getting lengthy sentences for four men who ransacked an elderly woman’s home two years ago and left her disabled son tethered to the refrigerator.

Later, the attorneys realized they had unintentionally short-changed the victims. Months after the crimes were committed, the family’s belongings remained in disarray, and the woman continued to worry that she was being stalked.

District Attorney Evert Fowle said that wake-up call led to the creation of a multidisciplinary group to serve as watchdogs in crimes against older people and against people incapable of handling financial and other matters.

“We want people in her position to be able to get help right way,” Fowle said. “Criminals who target elderly people are going to get special focus and scrutiny from this office. We are going to pursue them vigorously, and in this effort we have a lot of partners.”

The group includes representatives from nursing homes, legal services for the elderly, sexual-assault groups, adult protective services, domestic-violence agencies, the Attorney General’s Office, local police departments and Spectrum Generations.

“Every crime involving people over 60 is inventoried by prosecutors,” Fowle said. “The needs of victims need to be taken into account. Resources are brought to bear to see what assistance can be given to the victims.”

Full Article and Source:
Group Taking on Role of Elder Watchdogs

Former Caretaker Convicted

September 28, 2009

The former caretaker for a 93-year-old retired Springfield physician has been convicted of taking hundreds of thousands of dollars from the woman.

Sandra Gayle, 65, of Springfield was convicted of financial exploitation of the elderly and financial exploitation of a person with a disability. A Sangamon County jury deliberated a little more than an hour Friday before returning the verdict.

Prosecutors introduced testimony over the course of the four-day trial to show that Gayle used her own family to gain the trust of the doctor. Gayle, who had the victim’s power of attorney, then “gifted” easily more than $300,000 from the doctor’s bank account to herself, relatives and friends, testimony indicated.

Gayle could receive from 4 to 15 years in prison when she is sentenced Nov. 19 by Associate Judge John Mehlick. Her crimes also are probationable.

Full Article and Source:
Former Caretaker Convicted of Ripping Off Elderly Woman

See also:
Caretaker Accused of Fraud, Trial Begins

Conahan Linked Again

September 28, 2009

Although Conahan’s name does not appear on any documents for Learco Inc., the owner of the Beer Express on Queen Street, Harrisburg, and people associated with the businesses have connections to him.

A Dauphin County beer distributor and the company that owns it raise questions about the diverse business interests of former judge Michael T. Conahan.

His sister, Paula C. DeJoseph is listed as a stockholder of Learco, according to records on file with the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.

A message left Friday with DeJoseph was not returned.

The president of Learco, attorney Edward P. McNelis of Hazleton, shared an office with Conahan at one time and represented him in a complaint regarding campaign finances in his first run for a seat on the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas in 1993.

McNelis also represents Conahan’s wife, Barbara, and Cindy Ciavarella, wife of former judge Mark A. Ciavarella, in a pending civil suit related to the placement of juveniles in two detention centers at the heart of the criminal charges against the two former jurists.

Full Article and Source:
Conahan Linked to PA Beer Company

See also:
Group of 20 Argues Against Immunity for Ciavarella, Conahan

NASGA Member Attends Hearings