Archive for November, 2009

Judge Kathryn George Under Investigation

November 30, 2009

The state Judicial Tenure Commission is investigating a Macomb County Probate judge who allegedly mishandled cases and was excessively absent from the bench.

The focus of the probe is Judge Kathryn George, who was removed as the probate court’s chief judge in January 2008 after it was revealed she was circumventing the court’s list of conservators and appointing an inordinate number of cases to one agency, Shelby Township-based ADDMS Guardianship Services.

The Detroit News in 2007 reported that George was sending most of her conservatorship cases to ADDMS, in violation of court rules requiring judges to use a rotation of several conservatorship agencies.

Now, Judicial Tenure Commission investigators are poring over court records, looking at cases handled by George, along with her attendance record, said Macomb Chief Probate Judge Kenneth Sanborn.

The probe marks at least the second time state court officials have investigated George, 58, a former registered nurse and Sterling Heights city councilwoman who has served on the bench since 2002.

In February 2008, the State Court Administrator’s Office commissioned Auburn Hills-based auditor The Whall Group to look into George’s handling of cases, along with allegations of excessive absences.

The audit found “flagrant violations” by ADDMS. The audit highlighted several cases in which the agency mishandled the estates of people it was charged to care for, including selling the assets of an 82-year-old man who was recovering from pneumonia in a nursing home.

The Whall Group found that ADDMS sold the entire contents of his home, “including furnishings, appliances, clothing and two vintage automobiles.”

In January 2008, after the Whall Group report was published, Carl Gromek, chief of staff of the State Court Administrator’s Office, removed George as the court’s chief judge, and ADDMS was barred from handling cases.

Seven months later, Sanborn signed an administrative order removing George from all cases involving wills and estates.

Full Article and Source:
Malcomb Judge Again Under Investigation

See Also:
Attorney Contests Removal

See Also:
My Mother

Adele Remembered

November 30, 2009

Her friends ask, “Dear Gus Bilirakis: Do you remember Adele’s demise?”

Adele Fletcher could not imagine the devastation that Attorney Gus Bilirakis and Professional Guardian Fran Lang would unleash upon her.

In 1935, her adult life was just beginning. Sixty-two years later, she would begin living a nightmare.

This site is dedicated to the loving memory of Adele Fletcher by her many friends.

Florida’s 9th U.S. Congressional District currently served by Gus Bilirakis will hold an election in 2010.


Read About the Fraud, the Estate Bashing, and the Conviction

About Bilirakis

Rita Hunter Named in Suit

November 30, 2009

Rita Hunter, former Jasper County public administrator, has been named in a wrongful death lawsuit filed in connection with the fatal fire in November 2006 at the Anderson Guest House group home.

The fire, which killed 10 group home residents and one worker, has spawned a series of lawsuits, plus federal criminal charges against owners of the group home alleging Medicaid fraud.

This suit filed Wednesday in McDonald County Circuit Court is the first to name Hunter in connection with the group home blaze. Mary Frances Joyce, the mother of Isaiah Lee Joyce, contends that her son’s death was the result of Hunter’s “careless and negligent” actions because she failed to place Joyce “in a facility that was maintained in a manner that allowed for its safe use by residents.” Hunter is named in the suit individually and in her capacity as public administrator.

Isaiah Joyce, 25, was a ward of the public administrator’s office and had been placed in the group home for the mentally disabled.

Other defendants
The suit also names Joplin River of Life Ministries, owners Robert and LaVerne DuPont, Shirley Brannon, group home administrator, and officers of the Missouri Department of Health and Social Services.

“We named her (Hunter) because she was the guardian and conservator of Isaiah, and was responsible for making decisions on his behalf. We believe she knew what was going on there and failed to have his interest in mind and failed to take him out of the facility,” said Eryn Peddicord, the Lee’s Summit, Mo., attorney who filed the suit.

Full Article and Source:
Mother of Victim of Group Home Fire Sues Former Administrator, Others w/ Wrongful Death Lawsuit

See Also:
Federal Probe of Rita Hunter Tenure

Fraud Charges Reduced

November 29, 2009

On the day of her arrest, Sari Hope Axelrod was accused of participating in an elaborate scheme to defraud a legally blind, World War II Army veteran out of nearly $100,000.

On Monday, 13 months later, all but one of the felony charges Axelrod faced had been dropped. She pleaded guilty to grand theft and was sentenced to two years of probation.

Assistant State Attorney Mark Simpson has an explanation for why charges that initially seemed so egregious had mellowed over time.

“Figures of theft are difficult to prove,” he said Monday, adding the total figure actually believed to have been stolen was nowhere near $100,000.

“Once the rumor got started, it takes on a life of its own,” he explained of law enforcement’s initial belief.

Axelrod met Philip Johnson, a retired school teacher, in late 2007 when she responded to his ad seeking a caregiver. She is now 54, and he is 93.

Within months, Axelrod introduced Johnson to two of her friends: James Lee Gavin, now 40, and Elizabeth Huggins, now 35. This pair drove Axelrod and Johnson to Georgia, where the caregiver and client were wed.

Soon afterwards, investigators were claiming that nearly $100,000 had been siphoned from Johnson’s bank account through fraudulent means. They believed Johnson was involuntarily signing checks over to the others. They also alleged that Johnson’s caregiver-turned-wife was withholding his medication and verbally abusing him.

In October 2008, Axelrod – then known as Sari Hope Johnson – was arrested on charges of exploitation of the elderly and disabled, organized fraud and grand theft. She initially was denied bail and spent five and a half months in jail awaiting resolution of her case. Her marriage was annulled.

Gavin and Huggins were charged with similar counts.

By Monday, all of Axelrod’s counts had been dropped except for a third-degree grand theft charge, to which she pleaded guilty.

Her negotiated plea bargain with the state called for five years of probation, but the judge reduced it by half when Axelrod paid her share of restitution. He also withheld adjudication of guilt, which means this does not constitute a conviction on her record.

In the end, Axelrod was only required to pay back $5,200. Bank records show she earned about $17,000 between January and May 2008, when she served as Johnson’s caregiver.

Full Article and Source:
Fraud Charges Reduced for Caregiver

Honest Deal Or……?

November 29, 2009

Carel Callahan Bainum pictured with Vartan Baligiham

Calling the case “a troubling scenario of money, deceit and financial abuse of an elderly person,” the state Supreme Court has refused to disturb a lower court decision that blocks a Warwick woman from doing much of anything with her assets until a civil fraud trial is held.

The restraining order was issued by Superior Court Judge Jeffrey A. Lanphear in May 2008, two months before Vartan Baligian died at age 98. It prohibits his “friend” Carel Callahan Bainum from transferring, selling, concealing, disposing of or encumbering any real estate, cash, bank accounts, mortgage proceeds, bonds, personal property or other items of value — other than to pay her “normal and usual personal living expenses” — until the lawsuit against her is resolved.

At issue is repayment of the remainder of a $120,000 loan Baligian made to Bainum in 2002.

Baligian’s daughter, Sona Stevens, of West Warwick, claims her father was a victim of elder financial exploitation.

Bainum, 61, denies those allegations. In a court filing, she asserts that it was Baligian’s idea to loan her money so he could make higher interest and “sustain his home and pay his monthly expenses.”

Full Article and Source:
Honest Deal or an Elderly Man Exploited?

Charged with Elder Abuse of His Mother

November 29, 2009

David Ribarchik, 47, of Flint Township, has been charged with one count of first degree vulnerable adult abuse. It’s a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

His mother is the purported victim.

Genesee County Sheriff Robert Pickell says paramedics got a call Monday afternoon about a 75-year-old woman who had fallen from a chair. Pickell says his investigators later determined she had actually been lying on the floor since about 4:00 Saturday morning.

Before she fell out of the chair, Pickell says she virtually lived in it.

“We learned from the investigation the victim had been sleeping in the chair by the door for at least two months. That’s the chair she fell out of. Because the house was so cluttered she couldn’t walk,” Pickell said.

She is now in the hospital. Sores on her body being treated. Pickell describes her physical condition as “not good.”

Pickell says he had been under her son’s care for at least one year.

The judge today ordered he have no contact with his mother and Pickell says an emergency guardian and conservator was appointed to manage her care and finances.

Full Article, Video, and Source:
Flint Township Man Charged With Elder Abuse

Arrested for Exploitation of an Elderly Person

November 29, 2009

According to an arrest report dated Nov. 23, Glynda Anne Jones, 45, was served a warrant for exploitation of an elderly person or disabled adult less than $20,000.

The victim, reported as being in her 80s and who lived alone, and Jones were friends for several years. The victim is also suffering from some dementia. Jones was granted comprehensive power of attorney in December of 2006, and assisted the victim in her daily activities, the report said.

An investigation started when a bill was reported to be several months in arrears and it was discovered that Jones “had used over $1,000 for her own purposes not related to Paul’s care.”

The report states that the victim’s bank records show that Jones also allegedly paid herself $62,700 in multiple cash transactions from three of the victim’s accounts over the last year.

Additionally, the investigation revealed that $60,077 was paid out on behalf of Jones to her own or other’s benefits starting in March of 2007.

Full Article and Source:
Sebring Woman Charged With Exploitation of the Elderly

Assisted-Living & Alzheimer’s Facility Facing Criminal Neglect

November 28, 2009

Employees at a Las Vegas assisted-living and Alzheimer’s facility may face criminal neglect charges in connection with an ongoing investigation into the horrific care of elderly residents — some of whom were hospitalized because they did not receive their medication.

The Nevada Division of Aging and Disability Services investigated and confirmed a complaint of elder neglect at Chancellor Gardens of the Lakes and referred it to the attorney general’s office to determine whether criminal charges will be filed, officials said Tuesday.

The accusations stem from an ongoing investigation by the Nevada State Health Division of Chancellor Gardens, where the state previously found that dozens of the elderly residents had gone without their medications — resulting in three hospitalizations — and had suffered neglect at the hands of unqualified employees.

In the newest report, released Monday, the state found:

• Hundreds of pills that should have been administered to residents were instead discovered discarded in containers intended for needles and other sharp objects.

• A resident suffering from dementia — and unable to care for her colostomy — should not have been admitted to the facility because there were no medical personnel to provide care.

• Employees were unable to explain how to look for urinary tract infections or care for patients who had catheters.

• The facility failed to notify a patient’s guardian when the resident was admitted to the hospital.

• A patient with a history of seizures suffered four falls and required hospitalization.

The problems at Chancellor Gardens have been ongoing, even though state inspectors have been present or in contact with the facility for months.

Chancellor Gardens is owned by Utah-based Senior Management Concepts. One of the owners, Vaughn Pulsipher, told the Sun he is aware of the problems, taking them seriously and correcting them.

Full Article and Source:
Treatment of Elderly Could be Criminal

Lawyer Accused of Grand Theft

November 28, 2009

A western Lucas County lawyer who this year was suspended indefinitely by the Supreme Court of Ohio from practicing law appeared in Lucas County Common Pleas Court Monday to face a criminal theft charge.

Gerald A. Baker, 59, of Spencer Township was charged with grand theft for allegedly stealing more than $30,000 entrusted to him as an insurance settlement for a client.

Yesterday, he failed to appear for his morning arraignment on the charge, prompting Judge Gene Zmuda to issue a warrant. Mr. Baker, who told the judge he had moved and so had not received notification, appeared yesterday afternoon and was booked into the Lucas County jail before being released on his own recognizance.

Full Article and Source:
Lawyer Accused of Grand Theft is Jailed Briefly

Former Atty Gets Seven Years in Prison

November 28, 2009

Arkansas class-action attorney Steven Eugene Cauley was sentenced by a New York judge to seven years and two months in prison after admitting that he stole $9.3 million from client escrow accounts he controlled.

Cauley, who pleaded guilty in June to fraud and criminal contempt, stole money that he held in escrow from the proceeds of a class-action lawsuit against The BYSIS Group Inc., a Roseland, New Jersey-based insurance-services firm that services insurance companies. Cauley’s former Little Rock, Arkansas-based law firm, Cauley Bowman Carney & Williams PLLC, was among the lead attorneys in the 2004 class-action, or group, lawsuit.

Cauley, who has surrendered his law license, joins other attorneys who’ve been jailed for felonies. Marc Dreier, founder of New York’s Dreier LLP, is serving 20 years in prison for selling $700 million in phony promissory notes. Ex-Milberg Weiss Bershad & Shulman partners Mel Weiss, Bill Lerach, David Bershad and Steven Schulman were sent to prison in a kickback scheme.

Full Article and Source:
Arkansas Lawyer Cauley Gets Seven Years for Fraud

See Also:
Disbarred Lawyer Confesses