Archive for September, 2009

CT House of Reps Backs Reducing Probate Courts

September 28, 2009

The Connecticut House of Representatives on Wednesday approved legislation that dramatically reduces the number of probate courts in the state by more than half and draws new probate districts in what will be the biggest overhaul of the probate system since it was formed over 300 years ago.

The legislation reduces the number of courts from 117 down to 54, creating new multi-town regional probate districts. Calls for regionalizing the courts were prompted because the system was near-bankrupt and facing large deficits.

“It was time to take this system that was created during colonial times and bring it into the modern era so that it can see a significant reduction in costs and remain self-sustaining,” said State Rep. Livvy Floren (R-149), “The new probate court map was based on population, location and workload.”

Full Article and Source:
Greenwich Representatives Back Law to Reduce Probate Courts

Massachusetts Looking At Silver Alert

September 28, 2009

Last November, after attending a play in Boston, Julia Wallace went to the ladies room while her husband, Jim, waited in the lobby. Julia, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, could not pick out her husband of 50 years in the crowd and wandered outside into the nearby MBTA station.

Luckily, a woman saw Julia and returned her to Jim. Upon her arrival Jim wept with joy.

“But it might not have turned out so well,” Jim Wallace told the Joint Committee on Elder Affairs yesterday with his wife at his side.

Wallace was among those who urged the committee to “enthusiastically” support a bill to create a “Silver Alert” system to help protect cognitively impaired missing persons.

“It would have been great to know that there was already a system in place to alert other people and businesses in the area of the theater that this person was missing,” Wallace said.

The proposed system would be modeled after the Amber Alert system, which notifies local businesses and the police when a child is missing.

“The system differs from Amber Alert in that the system focuses locally,” said Jerry Flaherty, spokesman for the Alzheimer’s Association of Massachusetts — New Hampshire Chapter.

Sixty percent of people with Alzheimer’s will become lost, with 30 to 40 percent dying if not found within 24 hours, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

State Sen. Robert O’Leary, D-Barnstable, a sponsor of the bill, hopes that the pilot program for this project will be initiated on the Cape because of its large elderly population.

“These are avoidable deaths,” said O’Leary. “This seems like an obvious thing to do.”

Full Article and Source:
‘Silver Alert’ Gets Statehouse Hearing

Swine Time at Luzerne County Rededication

September 28, 2009

Activist Gene Stilp joined several supporters in front of his trademark, 15-foot-high pink inflatable pig Friday morning, the group holding a banner that read “100 years of corruption.”

State Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski, D-Wilkes-Barre, stood smiling on top of the Luzerne County Courthouse steps – about snout high with Ms. Piggie.

“Come on down and help hold the sign!” Stilp yelled up to Pashinski. The legislator demurred, flashing his toothy grin, and gestured with his hands toward the huge hog. “America at its best!” he shouted before heading into the rotunda for the courthouse rededication, which marked the start of the building’s centennial celebration.

Pashinski was, of course, referring to Stilp’s demonstration of a core Constitutional right: Freedom of speech.

Stilp conceded that his “100 years of corruption” banner had been recycled from a protest three years ago during the centennial of the Harrisburg Capitol building. That much was kind of obvious. The banner boasted a pink pig on each end that, at one time, had the dates 1906 and 2006 across their sides. Those dates had been painted over, making the sign suitable for any government centennial.

The veteran activist objected to having State Supreme Court Justice Max Baer as keynote speaker for the rededication, contending that Baer disgraced himself by accepting the “illegal pay raise” the legislation approved in the wee morning hours in 2005. Who would he rather see at the podium?

“Average citizens,” he said. Children who were jailed by the two disgraced judges. Courthouse workers who toil under the onus of corrupt officials. Better yet, “this should be the start of a weeklong ethics conference.”

Full Article and Source:
Swine Time to Use Freedom of Speech at Gala

Preying on the Frail

September 27, 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 her 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 over the past two decades, a Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel investigation found. Hundreds more slipped through because employers failed to check their backgrounds or kept them on the job despite their criminal pasts.

Full Article and Source:
Preying on the Frail: When Criminals Care for the Elderly and Disabled

Letter to the United Nations

September 27, 2009

My name is Dr. Janet Louise Parker D.V.M. I am the founder and Executive Director of Medical Whistleblower. As Executive Director, I provide information and direct services to Medical Whistleblowers and actively work to democratically transform legal and social systems to protect their civil and human rights.

I would define a Medical Whistleblower as a person who has come forward to report Medical Fraud, Abuse or Neglect to State, Federal or International governmental authorities.

There is an appalling lack of Due Process for Medical Whistleblowers who report what they know about the human rights violations. One Medical Whistleblower, Allen Jones, was the Investigator for the State of Pennsylvania’s Office of the Inspector General. IAG Investigator Allen Jones reported a widespread corruption of the governmental process to allow wholesale violation of the human rights of vulnerable children and adults by the pharmaceutical companies for profit. Human rights derive from the dignity of the human person. These rights were violated for commercial profit and personal power. When Allen Jones and other Medical Whistleblowers, many of them doctors (Psychiatrists and Psychologists) came forward to report the abuses they saw, they were retaliated against by constructive discharge, employment discrimination, threats against person, and even removal of their medical licenses. Gross mistreatment in connection with in-patient treatment of vulnerable children and adults should not be tolerated under international law. The criminals used Guardian abuse to generate profit by prolonged arbitrary detention of involuntary patients for medical fraud. A courageous attorney from the state of Alaska, Jim Gottstein, formed The Psychiatric Law Project to look into the legal means to try to protect the human rights of the victims of Medical Fraud, Psychiatric abuse and Guardian Abuse. What he found was a system that although initially meant to assist those with mental illness, is now so broken that there continue to be egregious violations of human rights and assaults on human dignity.

Full Article and Source:
Medical Whistleblower Letter to the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights

See also:
Medical Whistleblower’s Blog

Representative Payee

September 27, 2009

When I took over the finances for my mother, I shouldn’t have been surprised that she didn’t have her Social Security payment directly deposited into her checking account. My parents grew up during the unsettling times of the Depression with high unemployment and bank failures.

Representative payee
Many elderly beneficiaries who cannot manage or direct the management of his or her money have a representative payee. A representative payee is a person who has legal authority to receive a cash benefit check from the Social Security Administration (SSA) on behalf of the recipient.

A representative payee’s authority is limited to receiving and managing benefits from the SSA. The payee has no legal authority to manage non-Social Security income or medical matters. A power of attorney or legal guardianship is not recognized by the Treasury Department for the purposes of negotiating federal payments, including Social Security checks. Therefore, they too must apply to be appointed the representative payee.

You should contact the SSA office nearest you to apply to be a payee. You must then submit an application — form SSA-11-BK in SSA-speak — and request to be selected as payee. You must also have documents to prove your identity. SSA requires that the payee application be completed in a face-to-face interview, with certain exceptions.

Here are some of the duties that are required from a representative payee:

Determine the beneficiary’s needs and use his or her payments to meet those needs.

Save any money left after meeting the beneficiary’s current needs in an interest bearing account or savings bonds for the beneficiary’s future needs.

Report any changes or events which could affect the beneficiary’s eligibility for benefits or payment amount.

Keep records of all payments received and how they are spent and/or saved.

Provide benefit information to social service agencies or medical facilities that serve the beneficiary.

Help the beneficiary get medical treatment when necessary.

Notify SSA of any changes in your (the payee’s) circumstances that would affect your performance or continuing as payee.

Complete written reports accounting for the use of funds once a year; and

Return any payments to which the beneficiary is not entitled to SSA.

You may not collect a fee for acting as a representative payee unless you are a qualified organizational payee who has applied and been approved in writing by the SSA to collect a fee.

If this all seems a little overwhelming, you may contact the Social Security Administration toll free at (800) 772-1213 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. Contact your local SSA office between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. on business days, or visit their Web site http://www.socialsecurity.gov. You may also request SSA Publication No. 05-10076, “A Guide for Representative Payees.”

Full Article and Source:
Helping a Parent Through the Social Security Maze

Note: Debbie Haws is a caregiver and guardian of a parent with dementia. Her experiences and heartfelt journeys have created a passion for increasing awareness of issues faced by Seniors and their families.

Judge Rejects Request for Change of Counsel

September 27, 2009

Circuit Court Judge H. Chris Ryan Jr. Thursday rejected an Ottawa woman’s request for change of counsel.

Currently represented by defense attorney Timothy F. Kohn of Ottawa, Susan K. Anderson told Ryan she wanted a new attorney to represent her in the trial, scheduled to begin Monday, Sept. 28. She is charged with exploiting the elderly in two separate cases.

Ryan questioned Anderson as to who she would hire and she said she didn’t know. He then refused her request pending her finding another attorney, postponed the trial and set a status hearing for Friday, Oct. 2, to confirm she hired new counsel.

Anderson, 3103 E. 1951st Road, remains in custody under $100,000 bond for the financial exploitation of an elderly person, a class 3 felony, for theft of more than $300 and less than $5,000.

Full Article and Source:
Judge Refuses Change of Attorney in Elderly Exploitation Case

Floria Bar Disciplines 27 Attorneys

September 27, 2009

The Florida Bar, the state’s guardian for the integrity of the legal profession, announces that the Florida Supreme Court in recent court orders disciplined 27 attorneys, disbarring 12, suspending eight and placing five on probation.

Some attorneys received more than one form of discipline. Seven attorneys were publicly reprimanded. One was ordered to pay restitution.

As an official agency of the Florida Supreme Court, The Florida Bar and its Department of Lawyer Regulation are charged with administering a statewide disciplinary system to enforce Supreme Court rules of professional conduct for the 86,000-plus lawyers admitted to practice law in Florida. Since Aug. 1, 2007, case files have been posted to attorneys’ individual Florida Bar profiles and may be reviewed at and/or downloaded from The Florida Bar’s Web site, http://www.floridabar.org.

Full Article and Source:
Florida Bar Disciplines 27 Attorneys

Lawyer Accused of Stealing Settlement

September 26, 2009

A 64-year-old former attorney who practiced in Vista before he was disbarred in July pled not guilty Monday to charges of embezzlement, grand theft and financial elder abuse for allegedly stealing settlements and retainer fees from clients.

David Gilbert Ronquillo faces five years and eight months in state prison if convicted, said Paul Levikow, spokesman for the district attorney’s office. Ronquillo was being held Monday at the South Bay Detention Center in Chula Vista on $50,000 bail, said Deputy District Attorney Jeffrey Dort.

According to State Bar court documents, Ronquillo misappropriated about $125,000 from two clients.

In 2005, Ronquillo procured a $235,606 insurance settlement for a Canadian man who lost his wife and was himself injured in a 1999 Needles car accident, State Bar Judge Richard Platel said in his decision to inactivate the lawyer’s bar membership. Ronquillo never paid the client his $115,066 portion of the settlement and instead used the money to run his practice, Platel found.

In 2007, a San Diego client gave Ronquillo a $10,000 retainer fee to defend him in a civil action, Platel said.

The suit was quickly dismissed, and Ronquillo, who only earned $1,000 in the case, never returned the $9,000 balance to his client, Platel said.

The State Bar had previously disciplined Ronquillo in 2004, suspending his membership for 30 days and placing him on probation for repeatedly issuing personal and business checks from his client’s trust accounts, according to State Bar records.

Full Article and Source:
Disbarred Vista Lawyer Accused of Stealing Client’s Settlement

Caretaker Accused of Fraud, Trial Begins

September 26, 2009

Caretaker Sandra Gayle convinced a retired Springfield pathologist that Gayle and her family were the only ones she could trust — then took “hundreds of thousands of dollars” from the woman, a prosecutor said. Tuesday.

Assistant state’s attorney Karen Tharp said in opening statements in Gayle’s trial on financial exploitation charges that Gayle, 65, “gifted” more than $300,000 from the 93-year-old doctor’s bank account to herself and her family members. Gayle also paid personal bills with the doctor’s money, Tharp said.

Defense attorney Jason Vincent said the evidence will show that Gayle, who began caring for the physician in January 2004, did everything on the up-and-up.

Vincent said the doctor had a financial adviser, an attorney and an accountant, and “Gayle would take her (the doctor) to their offices and lay everything out for them.”

“It was (the doctor’s) decision to do these giftings, not Sandra Gayle’s,” he said.

Gayle is accused of financial exploitation of the elderly and financial exploitation of a disabled person. She allegedly took money from the victim, who has no known heirs and assets of at least $2 million, between Nov. 24, 2004, and April 12, 2007. Gayle received free room and board at the woman’s house while drawing a salary of $1,344 a week.

Vincent said that amounted to little more than $8.50 an hour, considering that Gayle was on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

He said there was no gifting after the doctor was diagnosed with dementia in June 2007.

Full Article and Source:
Trial Begins for Caretaker Accused of Fraud